Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Levulan Photodynamic Therapy or PDT

Levulan/Photodynamic Therapy (or PDT) is an FDA approved office based treatment for the removal of precancer cells on the skin called Actinic Keratoses or AKs. Often referred to as “sun spots”, AKs are rough-textured, scaly spots that occur usually because of excessive long term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light. It is very important to treat AKs because they can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. AKs and even skin cancers that are caught in early stages can be treated very effectively using PDT. AKs can be destroyed using a variety of methods including physical destruction of the lesions, anticancer creams, or Levulan followed by the Blue light exposure (Levulan/PDT).

The staff will give you full oral and written instructions for your pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment needs.

What is Levulan Photodynamic Therapy(PDT)?

This is one of the most effective and fastest methods to destroy precancer cells on the skin (called Actinic Keratoses or AKs). A solution is applied to and left on the area that is being treated such as the face, scalp or arms. After about 60-90 minutes the solution is washed off and the area is then exposed to a light called blue light (Blu-U) for about 17 minutes. It’s that simple.

Why should you consider PDT?

It is recommended that all AKs be treated because they can progress to a form of cancer. Many methods exist to destroy AKs. Some AKs require individual removal of each lesion by freezing or scraping methods. However, lesions have to be visible in order to be removed individually. Anticancer creams on the other hand remove many precancers at the same time, visible or not. However, they will need to be applied by patients often for weeks and can result in a lot of redness for a long period of time. Treatment with these creams or gel can take 2 to 12 weeks.

PDT on the other hand is an office based procedure which takes about 90 minutes, often with very little downtime.

What should you expect after the Levulan with Blue light treatment?

It is very important to protect the treated skin from the sun or any intense light source for at least 48 hrs post treatment. The chemical in Levulan can continue to react to light for a length of time after therapy even when it is washed off of the skin. It is therefore important to protect the treated area of the skin for a few days after each session. Most patients will experience mild to moderate redness, scaling, and swelling following the treatment. This will typically resolve in a few days.

Rarely, a more intense reaction could occur which will also resolve after a few days or so. Your doctor may give you a topical or oral medication for your comfort and to aid in the resolution of the inflammation produced by the treatment.

How many treatment sessions will you need?

Your doctor will determine which area(s) of the body will benefit from this treatment. On a given visit, one area will be treated such as the full face, scalp, arms, chest or shoulders. For maximum effectiveness, at least 2 treatment sessions are required and done 4 weeks apart.

Is this procedure covered by insurance?

Almost all major insurances cover this procedure if you have AKs. A prior authorization from your insurance company might be required and will be obtained if needed by our staff.