Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a type of treatment that utilizes a laser to treat the skin in a variety of ways. Also known as blue light laser therapy, this treatment can be use to treat skin cancer, acne or even an uneven skin texture. It has many exterior applications, all of which can be performed as an outpatient procedure. However, none of this treatment's uses are as important as for skin cancer or pre-cancerous growths.
The blue light laser is used with a cream called photosensitizer Levulan Kerastick, which acts as an activator for the laser. This is primarily used in the treatment of pre-skin cancers, which are also known as actinic keratosis or skin cancer itself. The procedure is painless and brief, though it will likely require multiple treatments.
How the Procedure Works
Blue light or PDT treatment works by focusing light energy directly on specific cells that need to be removed. It actively destroys cells it comes into contact with by depriving them of oxygen; it is successful in killing abnormal cells without damaging healthy tissue. The risk of scarring is also minimal in comparison with treatments such as cryosurgery or excision.
What to Expect at a PDT Session
If you need to undergo PDT treatment, you can expect it to be rather quick. A photosensitizer cream will be applied to your face and then you'll lay on a table. Once the cream has dried, it will need to incubate from 30 minutes to 18 hours, depending on the area being treated. You'll then be placed under the blue light. This will feel warm, tingly or in some cases create a burning sensation. Once completed, the area will be washed, and you'll need to protect the skin with sunblock.
Benefits of PDT
PDT is an effective treatment for pre-cancerous lesions and skin cancer itself. It is relatively painless and can be targeted at specific areas of your skin without causing widespread skin damage. Side effects are milder than other treatments and works to create a better skin texture; it is a good treatment choice for sensitive areas.
Likelihood of Skin Cancer Reoccurrence
After undergoing PDT treatment, there is a chance your pre-cancer or skin cancer will come back. While unfortunate, this is a relatively small price to pay considering the treatment is so non-invasive. It can be repeated many times with minimal side effects or long-term damage.