Photodynamic Therapy / “Blue Light”


Photodynamic therapy, or Blue Light, is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill targeted cells. Used to treat sun-damaged skin, this procedure involves applying a topical medication to the skin. The procedure can effectively treat early changes in the skin that may lead to skin cancer.

Aminolevulinic acid is the drug we use for Blue Light therapy.  It is used to treat actinic keratosis (AK), a skin condition that can become cancer.  A special blue light, rather than laser light, is used to activate this drug.

What is treatment like?

Aminolevulinic acid (Levulan® Kerastick) is a solution that is applied directly to the lesions or spots on the face or scalp to treat actinic keratosis lesions, and causes the lesions to become sensitive to the light.  At a prescribed interval after the drug is applied, your doctor will expose the area being treated to a blue light for a period of minutes determined by the doctor. During the light therapy you will wear protective eyewear. You may feel stinging or burning once the area is exposed to the blue light, but it should go away within a day or so. The treated area may get red and scale and crust for up to 4 weeks before healing. If a lesion does not completely go away after treatment, it can be treated again 8 weeks later.

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 drug is used, you should take care to not expose your face and scalp to light.

  • Stay out of strong, direct light.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats to avoid sunlight when outdoors.
  • Avoid beaches, snow, light colored concrete, or other surfaces where strong light may be reflected.

Sunscreens will not protect the skin from photosensitivity reactions.

Skin changes: The treated skin will likely turn red and may 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 color after treatment.

 Insurance may cover this procedure. Click HERE for more information.

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