Photodynamic therapy involves the use of a light-sensitive chemical called a photosensitiser which on its own is inactive.
When light of a certain wavelength (usually red light) shines on to the skin to which the photosensitiser was applied before, the photosensitiser is activated. The oxygen that is released by this activation kills the abnormal cells in the area that is being treated. Only the area of skin exposed to the light source will be affected and inflamed. After the inflammation settles over a few weeks, the area will clear and the lesion will have been treated.
What is the Benefit of Photodynamic Therapy?
It is used where surgery or other forms of treatment may not be appropriate. For example, if the basal cell carcinomas are very large where surgery would be difficult or on the lower leg where skin healing is often delayed. It is also a good option where there are multiple lesions over a larger patch of skin.
Who is Photodynamic Therapy suitable for?
PDT can be used to treat various skin conditions including:
The below reasons might prevent you from having photodynamic therapy:
What is the process of Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an outpatient procedure and is done by your doctor or nurse. It is a two-step treatment that is carried out 3 hours apart on the same day. The first step is to apply a cream containing the photosensitiser to the area that needs to be treated. If necessary, any loose scale or crusts are removed first. A dressing is then applied over the cream and you will be asked to return in about 3 hours. This wait is to allow the photosensitiser to be absorbed and to convert into the active chemical by the skin.
The cream is then wiped off on your return 3 hours later and the area cleaned. A bright coloured light is then shone onto the treatment area for approximately 10 to 45 minutes (the precise time will be determined by your doctor or nurse depending on the light source).
What are the Risks and Complications of PDT?
The short-term side effects of phototherapy include:
Potential long-term side effects of phototherapy include:
What is the Recovery Time and Outcome for PDT?
Your doctor or nurse will explain how you should care for the treated areas. It is usually advised that, after the dressing has been removed, you can wash, bathe or shower as usual. Do not rub the treated area, but gently pat it dry. Within a few days, a scab will form, and healing will take several weeks (depending on which part of the body was treated). Care must be taken not to scratch the area or accidentally dislodge the scab during the healing process. The use of a suitable sunscreen (SPF 30) following the procedure, especially during outdoor activities, is essential.
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