Photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilizes a photosensitizing agent and a light source in order to treat a wide range of skin conditions ranging from inflammatory acne and sebaceous hyperplasia to precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses). A topical photosensitizing agent (i.e. aminolevulinic acid, ALA) is applied to the skin and allowed to incubate for one to several hours. During that time, the ALA is selectively absorbed by precancerous cells as well as by the bacteria that inhabits the skin and can cause acne. A photochemical reaction occurs within these cells that whereby ALA is converted to protoporphyrin IX, a light sensitive agent. When a particular light source is applied to the skin, certain acne and sebaceous lesions, as well as precancerous cells, are selectively destroyed. Strict light avoidance is essential for 36 to 48 hours following treatment. A sunburn-like reaction often occurs and can last for two to ten days, depending upon the intensity of the treatment.
The effectiveness of PDT can be improved by combining the procedure with certain lasers, like the Fraxel laser , Clear + Brilliant Permea® or the V-beam laser, depending on the individual patient’s needs.