Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses light and a light-sensitive medication to treat active acne. The procedure involves a photosensitizing medication, Levulan, being applied to the problem area, which is then activated by laser light. The medication absorbs this light and produces an active form of oxygen that aids in shrinking oil glands and temporarily reducing oil production. Three treatments a month apart are usually recommended.
Levulan is a 20% solution of Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA). ALA is a “natural” product found in all humans throughout the body. It is a precursor for hemoglobin synthesis.
Acne results from the obstruction and inflammation of the sebaceous glands, and it affects 80% of the human population. Acne typically begins in adolescence with hormonal changes. However, there are many older individuals who suffer from “adult acne.” The sebaceous glands, triggered by the hormone androgen, produce sebum (oil) in the skin. Although androgen is a male hormone, it is present in both men and women. Production of this hormone is highest during puberty, but it is always present in the body.
When androgen levels increase, the sebaceous glands release sebum. Ordinarily this oily substance spills onto the skin. When cells from the lining of hair follicles shed too quickly—clumping together and clogging pores—sebum is trapped beneath the skin causing whiteheads and blackheads. Sebum can then mix with the trapped cells and cause Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes)—bacteria normally found on the skin–to grow in the clogged follicles. P. acnes can cause inflammation and pus and can result in papules or pustules. When the follicles expand as much as they can, bumps called nodules are formed under the skin.
Moderate acne may include blackheads and whiteheads in addition to papules —inflamed lesions that appear as small, reddish or pinkish bumps that can be sensitive to touch—or pustules—inflamed, white-centered bumps that can be red at the base.
Severe acne is characterized by nodules —large, painful, solid lesions that appear as lumps under the skin—and cysts —deep, inflamed, pus-filled lesions that can be very painful. Nodules and cysts are inflammatory and can cause scarring.
Prior to Photodynamic Acne Treatment, the best available treatment option for resistant and cystic acne was Accutane. However, with Accutane there are many systemic* side effects including birth defects, liver abnormalities, mood depression, and virtually all patients get dryness and night vision changes. *Systemic treatments are any medications that are taken orally, injected or infused that affect the entire body system. PDT Acne Treatment provides a viable alternative to all types of acne treatment without having negative systemic effects.
Before and After
The advantages of PDT are rapid treatment of acne lesions all over the face, no scarring, no surgical excisions and no systemic side effects. The skin appears refreshed and younger following these treatments. We advise 2-3 treatments at 3 to 4 week intervals to obtain optimal results.
The “downside” of Photodynamic treatment (PDT) is that your skin will be red and have some skin peeling (and crusting if you have skin cancers) for several days after the treatment. Usually, the first 1-2 days are the worst. You must remain indoors the day following your treatment to avoid sun exposure, as you are photosensitive for about 24 hours after PDT. Topical acne lotions can be used in between your Levulan treatments once the redness has settled down over a period of a few days.
Photodynamic Skin Rejuvenation
These treatments also remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called Actinic Keratoses. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation are also improved because of the positive effect of Levulan and the light treatment. ALA/PDT treatment also has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and improve the appearance of some acne scars. Levulan is revolutionizing how we perform skin rejuvenation and how we treat sun damaged skin.
Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan is indicated for:
• Removing pre-cancerous actininc keratoses
• Preventing skin cancer
• Improving wrinkles
• Reducing pore size
• Improving skin texture
• Improving pigmentation
• Treating moderate to severe cystic acne
• Treating sebaceous hyperplasia