Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for precancerous skin lesions such as actinic keratoses. This is indicated for patients with sun-damaged skin and a high prevalence of actinic keratoses. Often patients are treated frequently with liquid nitrogen cryotherapy causing stinging, burning, redness, and pain. Treatment with liquid nitrogen is quick and effective for patients with fewer precancerous lesions. For patients with extensive precancerous lesions, this process is not ideal.
PDT on the other hand offers an alternative treatment for patients with many precancerous lesions and allows treatment of a larger body surface area in one session. In the past, PDT was described as uncomfortable or painful with significant downtime. At ReJUVA Dermatology & Vein Center here in Venice, FL, we have altered our treatment protocol based on the most recent studies to allow this process to be painless yet maintain high efficacy.
On the PDT visit, a photosensitizer cream is applied to the affected skin such as the face, scalp, chest, forearms or legs. The synthetic precursor in the cream then preferentially accumulates in the dysplastic cells such as precancerous cells. The precursor then converts to Protoporphyrin IX through the heme pathway when exposed to blue or red light. This follows by formation of reactive oxygen species, which then leads to cell death of abnormal and precancerous cells.
When you arrive for your PDT session, a photosensitizing cream will be applied to the treatment area for a period of time prior to the blue or red light therapy. This is referred to as the “incubation period”. Following the incubation period, the light treatment (either blue or red) will begin. The length of incubation and treatment will be determined by your provider based on the area and extent of precancerous lesions. During the procedure, you may feel some warmth at the treatment site but should not feel pain or burning. This procedure is made painless with our new protocol for PDT at ReJUVA Dermatology.
Following PDT treatment, it is important to avoid the sun for the next 2 days as the treated area will be uncomfortable if exposed to the sun. The treated area may turn slightly red and light skin peeling after photodynamic therapy may occur. This is considered an appropriate response to therapy as it removes the precancerous lesions. Multiple treatments may be required for the best results. Many patients also report overall improvement in skin texture and discoloration after several PDT treatments.
Contact our Venice, FL office at 941-529-007 to learn more about our PTD treatment protocol for precancerous lesions.