Photodynamic Therapy is one of the newer techniques that uses
a cream and light to treat sun damaged skin, skin cancers,
aging, acne, and sun spots. It is non surgical, non invasive
and produces excellent cosmetic results.
What is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for a number of
skin conditions such as sun spots, sun damage, aging, acne
and skin cancer. During the treatment a cream is applied to
the skin for 1 hour and then the skin is exposed to either a
Blue light or Pulsed light. The cream is selectively taken
up by the abnormal skin compared to surrounding normal skin.
The cream is then activated by the light (Blue or Pulsed
light) which in turn removes the abnormal cells, and allows
normal skin to replace them.
What sort of cream is used?
A special cream is applied to the skin, which is converted
to a porphyrin substance within abnormal calls of the skin.
Porphyrin is activated by various light sources leading to
the selective removal of abnormal cells. The cream is safe,
but it makes your skin sensitive to sunlight for 48 hours
after the treatment.
Does the cream have side effects?
The cream is safe and does not lead to cancer. But it does
make people sensitive to sunlight for 48 hours after
treatment. This means that it is essential to wear sunscreen
strictly for 48 hours after treatment.
What sort of light is used?
The special cream and porphyrins are activated by many
different light and laser sources. We commonly use Pulsed
light (IPL) and Blu-U. These are not ultraviolet lights, so
do not cause skin cancers. Light sources are not X rays.
These light sources do not have harmful effects on the skin.
In fact Pulsed light (IPL) is used for skin rejuvenation,
and for treating red veins and brown marks.
How Effective is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?
Photodynamic therapy is highly effective in treating sun
spots, and some skin cancers with a cure rate of over 90%.
In the treatment of sun damage and aging, the cosmetic
improvement is significant. Skin texture, colour and fine
lines usually are substantially improved, and may disappear
completely. Acne can be successfully treated with monthly
treatment of PDT. Even severe cases of acne can be
successfully treated. In some patients the results are as
good as Roaccutane therapy.
Does PDT hurt?
During PDT there is some burning discomfort. A cooling fan
is used to minimize this discomfort.
Does PDT require an anesthetic?
No. PDT does not need an anesthetic. No hospitalisation is
What aftercare is needed after PDT?
- Sunscreen protection for 48 hours strictly is essential
- Moisturizer for peeling skin
- Regular makeup can be worn immediately after treatment.
Do I need time off work?
You may be red and swollen for a few days after treatment.
There may also be some peeling of the skin. A few days off
work are recommended.
Is PDT suitable for all skin colours?
PDT can be used in all skin types.
Does PDT cause scarring?
Scarring is not usually associated with PDT.
Are there side effects with PDT?
PDT has few side effects but these include:
- Sunburn with blisters. PDT makes the skin sensitive to
sunlight for 48 hours after the treatment, so sunscreens are
- Pigment change- rare
- Infection- rare
- Scarring- rare
What parts of the body can PDT be used on?
PDT can be used on all parts of the body, but the face is
the commonest site.
How does PDT compare to other forms of treatment?
- Treatment of sunspots produces better results than liquid
nitrogen (dry ice
- Treatment of some skin cancers is close to the cure rate
of surgery, but produces a much better cosmetic result.
- Treatment of acne is as good as conventional treatment in
many cases and can produce equivalent results to Ro Accutane
in some people.
What age groups are suitable for PDT?
PDT can be used in all age groups.