Photodynamic Therapy is a skin treatment predominantly used for pre-malignant skin lesions. But can also be used for acne, rosacea and wound healing.
Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that can be used for a number of different problems. Its main use is in the treatment of pre malignant skin lesions such as solar keratosis and the treatment of skin cancers. It can also be used for skin rejuvenation, acne, rosacea and wound healing.
Ministry of Skin is a RACGP accredited clinic.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a prescription cream and a special type of light. The cream is a chemical that can be activated by the light ie it is a photosensitising agent. When the cream is applied to the skin it is selectively absorbed into the damaged skin cells. When the area is then exposed to the light, the cream is activated and destroys any cancer cells, bacteria or other damaged cells whilst not causing any damage to normal cells.
How PDT is done.
At Ministry of Skin we perform a number of PDT treatments in a calm environment with medical support. The treatment is especially useful for abnormal lesions on the face, scalp, arms and hands and is popular because it minimises scarring and can also treat DNA damage within the skin cells that cannot yet be visualised.
On the day of the procedure we bring you in to the clinic and apply a photosensitising cream to the area of the body that is being treated. This cream is left of the skin for 2-4 hours to allow it to be absorbed and taken up by the abnormal or damaged skin cells. During this time it is really important that you do not get ANY exposure to sun light as it can start activating the cream.
2-4 hours later you return. We then sit you under a special light source that activates the cream that was applied to your skin. The treatment selectively destroys the cancerous skin cells or bacteria whilst causing minimal damage to surrounding normal tissue. Whilst under the light, you may feel a stinging or burning sensation. A fan, simple painkillers or local anaesthetic can help ease the discomfort. During the treatment the staff at Medical Skin Clinic Australia will remain at hand to ensure you are comfortable and can express any skin sensations you may be feeling.
After the treatment you need to avoid any sun exposure for 48 hours. This also includes the sun that you are exposed to through windows.
Over the first 48-72 hours the area treated will become red and inflamed. It may also swell, scabs may form and the area could be painful and sensitive. We recommend you rest during this time, drink plenty of water, and simple pain relief can be taken. The clinic will advice on creams you can use to help relieve any discomfort. It is fine to bath or shower if you treat the area gently.
After 3-4 days the area treated will start to heal up, redness will gradually lessen and some peeling may occur. This will continue over the following 7-10 days until resolution has occurred.
The treatment should remove the skin cancers being treated, however if you have any thick skin lesions, you may need another treatment about 4 weeks later and if anything should return please return to the clinic for further assessment.
If the PDT is being used for another indication such as acne, one treatment of PDT may involve a number of sessions. Before treatment commences, you will have an assessment with a medical practitioner who will individualise a treatment plan for you that you understand and agree with. All plans are flexible and paid for as they are performed, so that if results are achieved in a quicker time or you would prefer something else we can arrange this.
PDT and its side effects
The most common side effects PDT are redness and swelling in the treated area.
Swelling: Swelling in the treated area can lead to pain or discomfort. Simple pain relief or wet compresses may help. Also sleeping on a raised pillow can help minimise morning swelling.
Photosensitivity reactions: Reactions caused by light can show up on the skin where the drug is applied. They usually involve redness and a tingling or burning sensation. For about 2 days after the treatment, you should take care not to expose treated areas of your face and scalp to light.
Skin changes: The treated skin will likely turn red, may blister and swell after treatment. This usually peaks about a day after treatment and gets better within a week. It should be gone about 4 weeks after treatment. The skin may also be itchy or change colour after treatment.
At Ministry of Skin we will discuss with you what you should expect and what your treated skin will look and feel like. We will answer any questions that you have and provide follow up to ensure you are supported during your treatment.
When to contact the clinic
Please contact the clinic if you are suffering with anything you are unsure about, we are here to help and support you. Signs to be concerned about are increased pain, fever, significant swelling or oozing or any difficultly in breathing.
How many sessions are required for PDT?
Treatment of solar keratosis, basal cell carcinomas, psoriasis and skin rejuvenation generally requires only one session. A second session may be required if you have thicker lesions, multiple lesions or significant rejuvenation is required. Our trained staff can usually advise you if this second session will be needed before treatment commences as they have significant experience in the results that PDT can accomplish.
In regards to acne, best results are achieved by two to four sessions at intervals between 10 and 30 days.