Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a well-established, non-invasive treatment for a variety of dermatologic disorders, including actinic keratosis. Furthermore, PDT results in marked improvements in the signs of skin aging, although currently there are no standardized guidelines for PDT in skin rejuvenation.
Two types of PDT are available: conventional-PDT (c-PDT) and the newly introduced daylight-PDT (DL-PDT). Both require a topical photosensitizer, a light source and oxygen, and both are comparable regarding safety and efficacy for treatment of photo-induced skin aging. Treatment is particularly effective for improvement of fine wrinkles, skin roughness, actinic elastosis and mottled hyperpigmentation.
PDT is sometimes called photochemotherapy because of its use in cancer treatment. It’s also used to treat many different conditions, including acne and skin growths like warts. This is because of how potent the chemicals can be in destroying the cells or glands that cause these conditions.
A range of pre-treatment procedures helps improve skin absorption of the photosensitizer and lead to significantly improved efﬁcacy. A variety of activating light sources can be used for c-PDT, while DL-PDT uses natural daylight, making it easier to treat larger areas of photodamaged skin.
PDT is usually performed as an outpatient procedure without having to be admitted into a hospital. Anesthesia is generally not needed unless the area being treated is inside your body.
PDT is done in several steps:
- Your doctor injects a photosensitizer agent into your blood directly into your veins.
- You’ll return to the doctor or specialist’s office after a certain amount of time (usually one to three days) known as the drug-to-light interval.
- Your doctor or specialist will then shine the appropriate light on the area where the agent was applied. This step usually takes a few minutes to an hour.
Your doctor may ask you to return several days after the procedure to make sure there’s no leftover tissue to be removed.
Age spots, rosacea, and acne respond well to this targeted treatment method, and the patient is able to resume normal activities in much less time than the more aggressive treatments. Stinging or a burning sensation can result after the treatment but usually resolves within 24 hours.
Recovery from PDT is usually quick and may only have minor side effects. You may feel fully recovered in less than a day and experience no side effects at all. If your doctor used any tools to get light inside your body, you may also feel sore, itchy, or raw where the agent or the light was applied.
Depending on the individual, multiple sessions may be required. It is said to have about 3 sessions for about 2-4 weeks apart for results to show. While some patients may be happy with just one session.
For maintenance, more sessions can be done at periodic intervals.
Aftercare method includes:
- Avoiding sunlight or even indoor light that’s very bright.
- Wearing a hat to protect your face and neck.
- Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes. Cover the area that was treated with clothing or other material
Let your doctor know about any allergies, sensitivities, or existing conditions before you undergo PDT. You may experience some side effects around the area the agent was applied from even brief exposure to light. This is because of the photosensitizing agent being in your blood or on your skin and making you more sensitive to light than usual. Some of these side effects can include: