Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic Therapy NYC by Jody Levine, MD
First used in the early 1900s for the treatment of skin cancer, photodynamic therapy has, in more recent years, proven to have exciting medical and cosmetic applications as a simple, safe, and non-invasive way to treat problem skin conditions such as precancerous lesions, acne inflammation, and sun damage. Photodynamic therapy can also help improve the skin’s overall appearance, tone, color, and texture.
How does photodynamic therapy work?
Photodynamic therapy combines a photosensitizing solution with a specialized light source to target abnormal skin cells while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. During the procedure, a photosensitizing solution is applied to the treatment area and is preferentially absorbed by targeted tissue, such as overactive sebaceous oil glands and actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions). After an incubation period, which ranges from minutes to hours depending on the conditions being treated, the photosensitizing agent is exposed to a specific wavelength of light, which activates the medication and subsequently breaks down the targeted tissue.*
What should I expect during photodynamic therapy?
Photodynamic therapy is performed on an outpatient basis in our offices. After the treatment area is thoroughly cleansed, the photosensitizing solution is applied. There will be a waiting period for the medication to be absorbed. This incubation time will vary, depending on the specific conditions being treated, but usually ranges from a few minutes up to several hours. After the prescribed time, the treatment area will be exposed to a blue light, which will activate the medication. Patients either experience no discomfort or report sensations of warmth and tingling during the procedure. A cooling fan may be used to ensure patient comfort.*
What should I expect after photodynamic therapy?
Your skin will appear red for the first two weeks after the procedure, similar to a moderate or deep sunburn. Because the photosensitizing agent makes your skin extremely sensitive to light, it is important to avoid sun exposure during the first 48 hours after treatment. Patients can resume normal indoor activities immediately following treatment. Outdoor activities may be resumed after 48 hours, but you should use sunblock of at least SPF 45 to protect the skin.*
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments will vary according to your condition. Most patients require only one treatment per area. For patients with severe sun damage and precancerous lesions, yearly photodynamic therapy may be advised.* Dr. Levine will assess your condition and recommend a treatment schedule that is best suited to your specific needs.