PDT Levulan® Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment that combines light with a photosensitizing solution to improve sun damage, pre-cancerous cells (actinic keratosis) and acne in a non-invasive, cosmetically enhancing way.  Fred M. Novice, MD is a pioneer and international leader in utilizing and improving this technology.

The photosensitizing solution is called Levulan®, 20% Aminolevulinic acid, manufactured by DUSA Pharmaceuticals.  This is applied to the surface of the skin to be treated, where it is absorbed preferentially by abnormal or pre-cancerous skin cells as well as oil glands and pores, making these more sensitive to laser or light.  After the incubation period (the time the solution sits on the surface of the skin), a laser or light source will be used to activate the solution.  This combination therapy leads to a destruction or reduction of abnormal cells and excessive oil gland cells and results in healthier, smoother, and clearer skin.

Call today to schedule a cosmetic dermatology consultation at (248) 932.3376

Photodynamic Therapy FAQ

  • Who is a candidate?

    Anyone with acne, sun damaged skin, actinic keratoses (pre-skin cancers) and other less common conditions for which PDT is used

    If you are pregnant or have been on Accutane® within the past 6 months, you will have to wait to have this treatment until you are no longer pregnant or it has been at least six months since your last does of Accutane®.

    If you are taking aspirin or blood thinners, you may experience some bruising that can take up to two weeks to resolve. If you are tanned or have recently been exposed to the sun in the area you are having treated, you may be more susceptible to potential side effects such as blisters or crusts and/or your treatments may need to be reduced in intensity or postponed until the tan fades.

  • What is Photodynamic Therapy like?

    Before treatment your skin will be thoroughly cleansed. The Levulan® will then be applied. It is a clear solution in an applicator stick with a foam end and it is sponged onto your skin. You will be asked to sit in our cosmetic waiting room for 30-120 minutes while the solution is absorbed into your skin. Feel free to bring along work or a book and some people even leave the premises with appropriate full protection from sunlight. Following incubation, Levulan® is washed off thoroughly prior to the light treatment. We will then apply sun block to the affected area. You should avoid sunlight COMPLETELY for 48 hours including natural light coming through WINDOWS OR GLASS! If you have to drive, you should wear a hat and lower your visor. If you are a passenger, you should turn the treated areas away from the windows or cover completely. The photosensitization persists for 2 days even though the solution has been removed.

  • What desired results can be expected?

    Actinic Keratoses usually require 1-4 treatments, one to many months apart. There is a >80% response rate reported in the medical literature as well as in our experience. Any spots that don’t respond will require re-treatment or use of another modality (such as liquid nitrogen), or biopsy. Actinic keratoses represent “field cancerization.” This means that all of the area (such as the facial skin exposed to a lifetime of sun) may be affected and not just where the lesions are present. Thus we will treat the entire area and not just the spots. This may result in prevention of skin cancer in the treated area. Typically one treatment a year may be necessary for maintenance in those who have had significant sun exposure.

    Acne usually requires three to six treatments, two to three weeks apart. This should result in about a 70% reduction in acne (average improvement) three months after the last treatment. Occasionally there are resistant cases that need more treatments. Single maintenance treatments may maintain or continue to improve the overall acne condition.

  • What happens after Photodynamic Therapy?

    Pure zinc oxide may be applied to the treated area or it should be covered with clothes, hats, or scarves for 48 hours. Do not expose the area to sunlight even briefly during this time. You may experience slight redness and/or peeling. You may resume your normal skin care after the peeling stops or immediately if there is no peeling. Make up may be applied immediately after your treatment. Normal skincare can be resumed after 24 hours unless otherwise directed by your provider.