Acne Treatment with Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a revolutionary treatment of hard-to-treat acne and acne scars. PDT has been used to treat acne for over 10 years. PDT combines light and a special light-activated solution (Levulan) that targets and destroys acne activity. This treatment also diminishes older acne scars, leaving your skin smoother. This light-based treatment has been shown to affect both the acne-causing oil glands in the skin, as well as the P. acnes bacteria that contribute to the development of acne lesions. PDT has been reported to treat active pimples and comodones, decrease the frequency of acne breakouts, as well as improve the tone and texture of the skin while softening the appearance of acne scars.
PDT uses a special photosensitizing solution called 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA, or Levulan). After the skin is cleansed, this solution is applied to the affected areas of the skin and allowed to soak in, or incubate, for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, the solution is absorbed into the pores and acne/oil glands. After 30 minutes the skin is exposed to a blue light (BLU-U) that activates the Levulan deep in the acne oil glands. Once activated, the Levulan works by shrinking the acne oil glands, which will then lead to a decrease in oil production. The PDT treatment also kills the bacteria that can contribute to the development of acne lesions. By normalizing the turnover of the skin and helping the skin shed dead cells more effectively, PDT can help unclog pores which leads to a decrease in blackheads, whiteheads, acne bumps, and pimples on the skin. PDT often leaves the skin red and scaly for a few days after treatment; similar to the reaction you get with a sunburn.
The treated skin remains sensitive to daylight for 36 hours after the treatment, so it is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from all day light exposure during this time period.
You can learn more about acne treatments with photodynamic therapies at American Academy of Dermatology.