Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an innovative treatment that uses Levulan, a photosensitizing drug, to reverse sun damage and eliminate precancerous growths. Levulan, or aminolevulinic acid, is a substance that naturally occurs in the body. Prior to PDT, it is applied to the skin and is left to “incubate” painlessly for 1-2 hours while it is absorbed by sun damaged cells and metabolized into a light-sensitive molecule. The skin is then exposed to a blue light source for less than 20 minutes, during which time the molecule is activated, destroying the abnormal cells. Other benefits of PDT include reduction of fine lines, reduction in pore size and enlarged oil glands, lessening of acne and rosacea, and improvement in the appearance of some scars.
PDT will cause a reaction in the skin that leads to tenderness, redness and swelling immediately after the procedure. Peeling occurs 3-4 days after treatment and most individuals have normal skin by 7 days post procedure.
For optimal results, treatments are performed in a series of at least three sessions, depending on the severity of the initial sun damage. Sessions are spaced at least four weeks apart, and maintenance treatments are often required in the long term.
Photodynamic therapy is a medical treatment that is normally billed to insurance. Coverage will depend on your particular plan and benefits.