PhotoDynamic Therapy™ (PDT) is a special treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan® Kerastick® (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA) activated with the correct wavelength of light. This is also known as “ALA/PDT treatment”. These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and pre-cancerous lesions 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 a naturally occurring photosensitizing compound, which has been approved by the FDA to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions called actinic keratosis as well as for the treatment of moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris. Levulan® is applied to the skin and subsequently “activated” by specific wavelengths of light, such as the special blue light BLU-U®. This process of activating Levulan® is to improve the appearance and reduce acne rosacea, acne vulgaris, sebaceous hyperplasia, decrease oiliness of the skin, and improve texture and smoothness by minimizing pore size. Any pre-cancerous lesions are simultaneously treated. The improvements of these skin conditions (other than actinic keratoses and acne vulgaris) are considered an “off label” use of Levulan®.
Dr. Gold is considered an international pioneer of the treatment PhotoDynamic Therapy™ and conducted much of the FDA research. He lectures all over the world on the benefits and techniques of PhotoDynamic Therapy™ with numerous lasers and light sources.
How much improvement can I expect?
Patients with severe sun damaged skin manifested by actinic keratoses, texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation and skin laxity may see excellent results. You may also see improvement of large pores and pitted acne scars. Active acne can improve dramatically.
How many treatments will it take to the see the best results?
To achieve maximum improvement of pre-cancerous (actinic keratoses) sun damage, skin tone and texture, a series of three treatments 2 – 4 weeks apart is the most effective. Some patients with only actinic keratoses are happy with just one treatment. More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.
What are the disadvantages?
Following PDT™, the treated areas can appear red with some peeling for 2 – 7 days. Some patients have an exuberant response to PDT™ and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmented patches called liver spots can become temporarily darker and then peel off leaving normal skin. (This usually occurs over 7 – 10 days.) These side effects are rare and most patients experience little to no downtime. Repeat treatments may be necessary.
Actinic Keratosis (AKs) is a precancerous skin growth that may progress to skin cancer. The growths begin as small, scaly or crusty patches on the skin’s surface. Actinic keratoses are most commonly found on areas that are heavily exposed to the sun such as the face, ears, scalp, neck, upper back and chest, backs of hands and forearms. They usually appear red but their colors can range from light or dark tan, appear pink or a combination of these.
Occasionally it itches or produces a pricking or tender sensation. Some actinic keratoses naturally disappear only to reappear later. Often you will see several actinic keratoses at a time.
What Causes Actinic Keratosis?
Actinic keratoses are directly related to past sun (ultraviolet) exposure. People who have lighter complexions, blonde or red hair, blue, green or gray eyes are at the greatest risk. Those with darker complexions can develop keratoses if they expose themselves to the sun without protection. If left untreated, some AKs may increase in size and pose a significant risk of developing into a form of skin cancer.
What Can Be Done?
There are a number of effective treatments for eradicating actinic keratoses. Dr. Gold will determine the best treatment method for you based on the nature of the lesion, your age and your health. These include topical agents, liquid nitrogen and a variety of surgical options.
The Levulan® Photodynamic Therapy System is a non-surgical procedure for the treatment of actinic keratoses. It is an advanced system that combines the application of a unique solution to the skin lesions and exposing the treated areas to a specialized blue light or IPL device to destroy the AKs. This process has been extensively studied by Dr. Gold and Tennessee Clinical Research Center. Dr. Gold is considered a worldwide expert in Photodynamic Therapy.
Tennessee Clinical Research Center routinely conducts clinical research studies for actinic keratosis. For more information call TCRC at 615-383-9660 or visit www.tnclinicalresearch.com to view the current list of studies.
To learn more about how your actinic keratosis can be treated by the dermatology team at Gold Skin Care, get in touch with us by calling 615-383-2400 or contacting us online today.