What is Photodynamic Therapy?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a revolutionary way to permanently treat sun damaged skin, blemished aged skin as well as large areas of acne. By using this special non-invasive light technology, skin safety, skin rejuvenation and even a cure for acne can be achieved. In the right hands, the treatment is fast and relatively painless.

PDT has been used in medicine for over 30 years. It has been used for skin cancers mainly, as well as internal cancers. In recent times, however, there has been an awakening to the concept that it can also be used to cure acne and rejuvenate the skin.

Effects of PDT on the skin

Benefits include improvement of sun damaged and aged skin, even to the extent that it may prevent the development of skin cancer in future. It reduces redness, large pores, fine lines, pigmentation and skin discolouration.

It can be used on the face, neck and V-neck area, as well as for clearing large areas of the back and chest of acne.

PDT can be used in transplant patients to help prevent the skin cancers they are prone to because of the immunosuppressant drugs they take to prevent organ rejection.

How does PDT work?

A naturally occurring lotion called 5-ALA or m-ALA is applied to the affected area and it is then absorbed into abnormal or damaged skin cells over several hours. Then the patient returns to the clinic and the skin is exposed to a special wavelength of light for a period of time. When exposed to this light, the damaged skin cells or acne glands are destroyed to reveal new, fresh, healthy skin cells.

Cost and downtime with PDT

Signs of redness, scabbing and peeling are signs of a successful treatment with PDT – more of this means a more successful treatment. Typically the skin will scale for several days but will not feel uncomfortable.

PDT is an inexpensive treatment that compares favourably to other treatments that carry the same downtime but are more painful and cost more. These other treatments include lasers used to burn off layers or sections of the skin.

Compared to other treatments, PDT offers significant benefits.

• For what it achieves, there is minimal downtime and side effects.
• Healing is usually rapid
• It provides an excellent cosmetic result.
• Scarring has never been reported
• There is no systemic reaction
• The treatment is customized to an individual's needs
• It can be repeated as necessary
• It does not prevent the person from undergoing any other skin procedure.

Who does PDT?

Look for large, established cosmetic clinics that have an interest in skin safety. Some dermatologists perform PDT too.

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