Photodynamic therapy (PDT) was first used in 1905 for the treatment of skin cancers. Since then, it has been further developed and used for the treatment of many kinds of other cancers (lung, colon, etc.) as well as certain types of blindness. PDT combines a drug (called a photosensitizer), that is absorbed by certain kinds of cells, and a special light source and when used together, the photosensitizer and the light destroy the targeted cells. More recently, however, PDT has been used for photorejuvenation, wrinkles, discoloration, visible veins, and acne. When used for these conditions, the photosensitizer is applied to the face and then the skin is exposed to a light source. Rapidly growing cells, oil glands, and other structures in the skin absorb the photosensitizer and are destroyed by a reaction caused by the light. Cosmetic improvement in wrinkling, age spots, and visible veins has been documented after PDT treatment.
PDT is a new advancement in facial rejuvenation and there are currently different methods in use. For example, some physicians use blue light, red light, or intense pulse light. The photosensitizer is applied to the skin and is left on for a variable period of time. The skin is exposed to the light source and the photosensitizer is then removed. Reported side effects, which will depend on what is being treated, how long the photosensitizer is left on, and which light source is used include transient burning, stinging, swelling, and redness. No long-term studies have been performed to evaluate long term side effects.
There are several advantages of photodynamic therapy over other forms of facial rejuvenation. For example, PDT is less destructive (and therefore less painful) than many of the deeper peels and lasers so it requires minimal recovery time. It is also a proven technique for the treatment of precancerous lesions so, depending on the technique used, there may be an additional benefit of preventing skin cancer.
The disadvantage of photodynamic therapy is that it is new therefore, long-term side effects are still unknown and the benefits (i.e.: how long it lasts) have not been well studied. Although PDT is a promising new therapy, you need to discuss the risks, benefits, and alternatives with your physician to decide if PDT is right for you.
This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician