Photodynamic Therapy for Actinic Keratoses

What is Photodynamic Therapy?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is the use of a medication activated by light.  PDT for treating precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses) utilizes a topical (on the skin) solution or gel in conjunction with a blue light. This treatment acts by selectively destroying precancerous cells, as well as shrinking sebaceous glands damaged by the sun.

How is the Procedure Performed?

The skin is swabbed to remove oils. Levulan Kerastick® or Ameluz (both aminolevulinic acid) is then applied to the skin and left on for 60 minutes. The patient then rests in a reclining position with goggles on while a blue light shines on the skin for 16 minutes.  A titanium/zinc sunscreen is then applied.

Consultations Are Available Now

Take the first step. Get your questions answered and find out if the procedure is right for you by meeting with one of our trusted medical staff at Krauss Dermatology for an in-person consultation.

Simply fill out the form on this page, and one of our experienced team members will reach out to you promptly to schedule your consultation.

Is Photodynamic Therapy Painful?

A slight stinging, tingling or warm sensation may be noticeable during treatment with the blue light or IPL. We use a cold air blower called a Zimmer cooler to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible.  Numbing cream is not helpful when using the blue light.

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects of Treatment?*

Redness, swelling, increased warmth and tingling sensations may occur for 1 to 3 days after treatment. Redness and scaling may be present for up to 1 week depending on the degree of sun damage. Rarely, crusting, darkening or lightening of areas of the skin, intense redness and prolonged swelling or stinging may occur. These generally resolve with proper skin care. Sun avoidance is absolutely necessary for 48 hours after the procedure. A sunscreen containing titanium and zinc oxide must be worn daily. Patients must wear a hat to protect the face from sunlight while outside during this 48 hour period as well.

Is Photodynamic Therapy FDA Approved?

PDT has been FDA approved for the treatment of precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses or AKs). The original FDA approval involved an overnight application of the Levulan medication, with light treatment the following day. Side effects and discomfort were much more unpleasant with this method. For this reason, PDT is more commonly being performed with 1-3 hour application time of Levulan. Many insurance companies require that a patient try prescription topical creams for their actinic keratoses before trying PDT.

How Many Treatments do I Need?*

Current recommendations suggest 1 to 2 treatments are necessary to achieve results. In addition, precancerous lesions and sometimes very superficial skin cancers that are not yet visible on the skin can be cleared. Improvement likely lasts years with continued use of sunscreens, topical prescription medications for AKs and anti-aging creams such as retinoids (Retinol, Retin-A, Renova).

Take the First Step – Request A Consultation

Please fill out the form on this page to request a consultation and one of our knowledgeable medical staff members at Krauss Dermatology will reach out to you promptly. You can also call our Wellesley, MA office directly to schedule – (781) 416-3500.

Krauss Dermatology serves the greater Boston area.

*Individual Results May Vary*