Photodynamic blue light therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive, FDA approved way to combat even the most difficult cases of acne. A special light-sensitive medication is applied to the skin affected by acne and allowed to remain there. To complete the procedure, a specialized light is shined on the skin and the cells that have absorbed the medication react. Blue light therapy is a special type of light that is used to treat skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.
How does PDT work?
Photodynamic therapy with blue light kills the bacteria (P. Acnes) that causes acne. How long does the treatment take? Each photodynamic treatment takes about 15-60 minutes, depending on the condition of your skin and the extent of the condition that is being treated, and usually a series of treatments is needed to fully treat your condition. The sessions are spaced two weeks apart to permit the optimal results of blue light photodynamic therapy to be achieved. Maintenance visits are frequently preferred to retain the benefits, and results are often noticeable from as little as two weeks to two months after beginning the treatments. Blue light photodynamic therapy usually produces results quicker than those achieved with using blue light alone. What will the process entail? The Levulan, which is a clear painless solution, is applied to your skin and left on for 15-60 minutes. It is then activated with a specific wavelength of light called BLU-U. This takes about 10-16 minutes. Alternate treatments may use Vbeam which can effectively multiply the bacteria-killing action of deeper cystic acne.
The Levulan is absorbed by active cells like acne sebaceous gland, making the targeted acne cells more sensitive to the light. This combined interaction of the solution and the light is what gives rise to the term “photodynamic therapy”. An important part of the treatment program is medical extraction of blackheads and acne pustules. This procedure will expedite the improvement in your skin condition by cleaning the pores of hardened sebum and infected debris. This can be achieved with microderm abrasion or JetPeel. The treatment reduces skin oiliness and minimizes the appearance of pore size. The entire skin texture improves following a Photodynamic Acne Treatment.
What are the advantages of PDT?
The advantages of PDT are rapid treatment of acne lesions all over the face
- no scarring
- no surgical excisions
- no systemic side effects
- skin appears refreshed and younger
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
We advise 2-3 treatments at 2 to 3 week intervals to obtain optimal results. Particularly severe cases may require 5 sessions for the most complete control.
What to Expect after the treatment?
PDT for acne does result in redness and peeling as well as sun-sensitivity.
Redness and Peeling: With your Photodynamic treatment (PDT) your skin will be red and you will have some skin peeling (and crusting in some instances) for several days after the treatment. Usually, the first 1-2 days are the worst. These effects are a small sacrifice for the major improvements you will gain.
Staying Inside: You must remain indoors 48 hours following your treatment to avoid sun exposure, as you are photosensitive for during that time and sun exposure could cause severe burns. Sunscreen even inside is essential.
Camouflaging redness: Pressed mineral base powder will hide most of the redness and is suitable for either males or females as it does not “look” like makeup. There are a number of brands you can choose from in department stores and drug stores. We can help you choose the right brand for you. We don’t recommend liquid products that may contain oils or waxes.
Will my insurance pay for the treatment?
There is no insurance coverage for PDT – Since PDT for Acne is an “off label” use of Levulan, it is not covered by insurance. We are hopeful this will change in the future. Our office provides package pricing options and we can assist you in acquiring payment plans through Care Credit if you desire.
What are the benefits of PDT?
The best benefit is the success that this therapy plan usually produces. While the skin needs to be protected from bright light for a day or two following the procedure, side effects are very rare and typically very mild.
Why should I choose Cahaba Dermatology?
Dr. Groysman has been using photodynamic therapy for acne for four years. Dr. Groysman’s experience in this, coupled with her ability to use other treatment approaches such as laser, antibiotics and Accutane, makes our practice the perfect place to treat your acne.