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Medical Dermatology

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

California Skin Institute board-certified dermatologists and advanced practitioners customize acne treatment plans and offers Photodynamic Therapy to help treat acne. This specialized treatment option is a great choice for patients who would like to avoid taking prescription medications for acne, such as antibiotics. Further, your California Skin Institute provider may combine Photodynamic Therapy with other treatment options, such as a change in your skin cleansing routine and specialized acne facials.

How Photodynamic Therapy Works

Unlike skin cleansers and facials for acne, which typically address several causes of acne at once, this therapy focuses on one specific culprit; acne-causing bacteria. Photodynamic Therapy is performed with a specialized device that emits a scattered fluorescent light that targets this bacteria.

The elimination of bacteria with Photodynamic Therapy helps acne heal faster, which gradually reduces the size of the follicle and the associated inflammation.

What Photodynamic Therapy Treats

Photodynamic Therapy is primarily used to treat moderate acne. This acne treatment option may not be suitable for severe breakouts, like cystic acne, which are typically too deep inside the skin for the light to kill acne-causing bacteria.

Photodynamic Therapy is also commonly used for field treatment of precancerous cells or actinic keratosis.

Is Photodynamic Therapy Safe?

Yes, this therapy is safe and should not cause skin damage when administered properly.

This treatment option is not a laser, and does not vaporize or coagulate any skin structures. Its sole focus is to target bacteria by exposing it to specific light wavelengths. Further, Photodynamic Therapy does not emit any UV radiation, so there is no danger of developing dark spots or skin cancer from this treatment.

However, it’s important to note that protective eyewear must be worn during treatment to shield your eyes from the light. When you visit California Skin Institute for Photodynamic Therapy, protective eyewear will be provided to you.

What to Expect During Photodynamic Therapy

If your California Skin Institute provider has determined that Photodynamic Therapy is an appropriate option for your moderate acne, he or she will schedule a series of treatment appointments for you.

When you come in for Photodynamic Therapy, it’s a good idea to cleanse your face beforehand and remove all makeup. This will make it easier for the light to reach bacteria on the surface of the skin and inside pores.

The typical session is quite short, and takes approximately 17 minutes, but will vary from patient to patient. During the treatment, you will be seated in a comfortable chair, in front of the machine. Once the protective eyewear has been placed over your eyes, the machine will be turned on and the fluorescent light will be administered to your skin.

Patients usually don’t experience significant discomfort during treatment, though mild stinging may occur during the first minutes. Most patients tolerate any associated discomfort very well, without the need for topical anesthetics.

After treatment, you should be able to go back to your regular activities and wear makeup.

Photodynamic Therapy Side Effects

Side effects associated with this treatment are typically mild and don’t cause significant discomfort. However, depending on the intensity of the treatment, some patients may experience slight redness and skin irritation. In some cases, minor scaling and crusting has been reported, though such occurrences are quite rare.

To learn more about Photodynamic Therapy or to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced providers, please call a California Skin Institute practice near you, or fill out the Contact Form below!

Conditions treated by Photodynamic Therapy

  • Acne
  • Precancers
  • Actinic keratosis

Individual results may vary.

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