Photodynamic Therapy is a special treatment using a photosensitizing agent called Levulan ( 5 aminolevulinic acid HCL 20%) which is activated with the correct wavelength of light. This treatment removes sun damaged precancerous zones and spots called actinic keratosis. There is also a positive effect on sun damaged skin, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation. It has the ability to minimize pores and reduce oil gland production. Levulan also is a great way to effectively treat stubborn acne vulgaris, acne Rosacea , and improves the appearance of some acne scars. To achieve maximum improvement in skin, multiple treatments may be required. (example: a series of three treatments, 3-4 weeks apart). More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin. Following Photodynamic Therapy, the treated areas appear red with some peeling for 2-12 days. Some patients have an exaggerated response and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmentation patches can become temporarily darker and then peel off, leaving normal, rejuvenated skin which can take 7-10 days. ** Patients should avoid exposure of the areas treated with Levulan to sunlight, bright windows, and bright indoor light for 48. Exposure may cause erythema , edema of the skin, and prolong the recovery process. Patients should protect their skin from the sun and bright light by wearing a wide brimmed hat or similar head covering of light opaque material and by keeping a thick cote of sun-blocking agent such as zinc-oxide (z-cote) on the skin until after the peeling has occurred. Use only gentle cleansers and moisturizers. Hydrocortisone cream can be applied for 24 hours after treatment for swelling. Aquaphor ointment can be applied to pigmented areas after the peeling has subsided. When treating the face, sleep elevated to prevent swelling.

Post treatment care:

  1. Avoid sunlight or bright indoor lighting for the next 48 hours. This includes bright windows, fluorescent and incandescent lighting. Limit time at computer screen, exercise caution with prolonged TV exposure and sit >10 feet from TV.
  2. If you must go outdoors during the first 48 hours post treatment, use a thick coat of sun blocking agents containing ingredients such as zinc oxide (x-cote), Mexoryl or Helioplex to treated areas. You may reapply every 2 hours to provide maximal coverage. Protect the head, face, ears, and neck by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or similar head covering of light, opaque material. Wear long sleeves and pants if extremities are treated. Light weight gloves should be worn to cover backs of treated hands.
  3. Keep skin well moisturized with gentle cleansers and moisturizers such as Cetaphil, Aveeno, Oil of Olay and CeraVe. Avoid all products that may irritate or exfoliate.
  4. Use .5-1% topical hydrocortisone lotion 2-3 times a day for redness and irritation. Example: Cortaid. Use for 3-5 days, if needed, until redness subsides.
  5. Use cool compresses as needed for swelling.
  6. Use vinegar and water soaks to help burning and tingling
    • mix one tablespoon of white vinegar to 2 cups cool water
    • soak washcloth and apply to face as needed
  7. Tylenol or Advil may be taken according the manufacturers recommendations for tenderness or discomfort.
  8. Daily use of SPF 30 sunscreen is recommended. Examples of acceptable sun blocks are Neutrogena Helioplex, Skin Ceuticals with mexoryl, Aveeno, and Anthelios with mexoryl.
After treatment, you may experience the following:
  1. Peeling or flaking of the skin
  2. Redness
  3. Dark spots
  4. Swelling
  5. Stinging/burning- usually lasts 24 hours
  6. Tenderness
  7. Oozing
These effects usually resolve in 5-7 days and should be resolved in 3-4 weeks. If you experience the following, please call your care provider:
  1. Severe pain
  2. Open, weeping skin
  3. Blisters
  4. Temperature >100.5
Note: Follow up with Physician/Technician 6-8 weeks post treatment.

Talk to your doctor about scheduling your personal Photodynamic Therapy.

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