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Photodynamic Therapy

A multistep light-based treatment
for acne and pre-cancerous cells

What is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

Photodynamic Therapy is a treatment for both acne and precancerous cells such as Actinic Keratosis. PDT involves the application of a topical medication to the treatment area and a light source. The topical medication is a photosensitizer called Levulan or Levulanic acid, which makes the skin more sensitive to light-based treatments. The light source is then applied using either blue/red light or intense pulsed light (IPL). These treatments help to destroy acne producing bacteria, to reduce the number of excessive sebaceous glands (oil glands), and to treat precancerous cells. In the treatment of acne, PDT helps to reduce both cystic acne and the frequency of acne breakouts. This treatment can be life-changing, reinvigorating the skin’s complexion, and preventing skin cancer.

PDT For Acne & Inflammation

Acne and resulting inflammation can wreak havoc on a clear, smooth complexion. Luckily, PDT can be an effective way to help eliminate the inflammatory and scarring effects of acne.

PDT Treatment is generally 3-fold. First, superficial dead cells are stripped away with the use of vibradermabrasion to allow better and more effective absorption of the photosensitizer, Levulanic acid, or Levulan. Levulan is then applied topically to the problematic areas and time is allotted for its absorption into the target cells contributing to acne. After a short incubation time, the cells are now an easier target for the light-based therapies. Finally, light therapy is applied to the areas treated. Dr. Brandish will help determine what light therapy solution best suits your skin and your condition. The combination of light therapy and the topical photosensitizer works to destroy acne-causing bacteria in the skin and also helps to reduce the activity of the sebaceous glands (oil glands) in the skin that also contribute to acne.

PDT For Precancerous Skin Lesions

PDT can also be a great way to eliminate precancerous skin lesions. Similar to PDT for acne treatment, PDT Treatment utilizes light therapy enhanced by a topical photosensitizer drug to target and destroy precancerous cells and lesions. Dr. Brandish will help determine what light therapy solution best suits your skin and your condition, but usually, blue light therapy is used in the treatment of precancerous lesions. With PDT, more serious skin cancer can be prevented very effectively, and your skin can be restored to its healthy, smooth appearance.

How long do results last?

Results with PDT tend to last several months to a year, on average. The longevity of results for acne treatment varies due to many factors including genetics, hormones, nutrition, and lifestyle habits. A series of treatments will be needed to effectively reduce acne breakouts. In the treatment of precancerous cells, usually, one or two treatments work effectively to prevent skin cancer with yearly follow-up treatments as needed; a good skin regimen with sunscreen protection can have protective effects against precancerous cells and improve the longevity of PDT treatments.

What should I expect with the treatment?

To start, you and Dr. Brandish will develop an individualized treatment plan to determine if PDT is the best tool for the desired result.

Once PDT is identified as the proper treatment, the skin will be cleaned and prepped for the procedure. Dr. Brandish will apply the topical photosensitizing agent to make the skin more susceptible to light therapy. After allowing some time for the photosensitizer to absorb into the skin, Dr. Brandish will apply the appropriate light therapy modality.

Although advanced precautions are taken at Brandish Clinic to more easily perform optimal treatments with minimal downtime, the procedure can make the skin very sensitive to light for the days after the procedure. Be sure to stay out of the sun for the first 24 hours and use protective sunscreen thereafter. There will be peeling of the skin after the treatment that may be mild or significant. Either way, the skin will be revitalized and have a more clear complexion. The peeling may also help to effectively reduce acne scarring.

A series of treatments over some weeks to months may be required to maximize the outcome in patients with acne. The number of treatments will be determined by the severity of acne and its stimulus.

Are there side effects to be
aware of with PDT?

Even with perfectly-executed procedures, side effects may arise. The most common reported side effects with PDT to tend to be skin peeling or crusting, moderate pain akin to a sunburn, redness, swelling, tightness, itching, or acne flare-up initially. These side effects tend to alleviate over the following several days.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Summary

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses light therapy enhanced by a topical photosensitizer, LePhotodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses light therapy enhanced by a topical photosensitizer, Levulan, to combat acne as well as precancerous cells.

It’s a safe and effective treatment for troublesome acne, especially in the instance that other routine acne treatments may not be tolerated. It is also very effective in the treatment of precancerous cells and the prevention of skin cancer. Vulcan, to combat acne as well as precancerous cells. This treatment accurately targets bacteria, oil glands that contribute to acne, and precancerous cells. The light therapy enhanced by the topical medication helps eliminate acne-causing bacteria, destroy precancerous cells, and slow the oil glands’ production of oil, helping alleviate the acne and inflammation and prevent skin cancer. PDT restores the skin to a more beautiful, clear complexion once again! It’s a safe and effective treatment for troublesome acne, especially in the instance that other routine acne treatments may not be tolerated. It is also very effective in the treatment of precancerous cells and the prevention of skin cancer.

How do I get started?

If you’re interested in hearing more or in scheduling an appointment, contact our office at

and we’ll take care of you. We offer free consultation appointments as well if you’d like to simply go over any problem areas and see if Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) or other treatment options may be the most effective solution.