At Coastal Dermatology & Surgery Center, we specialize in more than just routine skin appointments and cosmetic services. We also provide a variety of medical treatments that detect and target pre-cancer skin cells. One type of treatment we offer at our office is photodynamic therapy, also known as photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy. Here’s what you need to know about the surgery and if it might be the right choice for you.
What is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic therapy uses a drug called a photosensitizing agent along with a particular type of light wavelength (most often from a laser). The specific type of photosensitizing agent and light wavelength is determined by which areas of the body are being treated.
What does Photodynamic Therapy Treat?
The procedure targets pre-skin cancer, acne, and sun damage. It can clear premalignant growths produced from sun-exposed areas, especially seen on the face, chest, arms and hands. Photodynamic therapy can also treat moderate to severe acne and reverse some scarring without the use of oral medications.
What Happens During Surgery?
When the photosensitizing agent is injected into the bloodstream, it’s absorbed by all cells throughout the body, but remains in cancer cells for a longer period of time. About 30 minutes to a few hours after the injection, the photosensitizing agents that remain in the cancer cells are exposed to light wavelengths (which is absorbed by the cancer cells) and releases a form of oxygen that destroys nearby cancer cells. Skin will be extremely sensitive to light for the next 48 hours until the agent has been completely metabolized. You may see some redness or experience mild peeling up to two weeks post-treatment.
Are there any Complications?
Although not considered a severe complication, the most common problem patients have experienced is known as the “PDT Effect,” which is the redness and peeling that can occur after treatment. Some may have stronger reactions than others, which is caused by a larger amount of pre-skin cancers. When more cells are treated, higher amounts of the photosensitizing agent are absorbed. Also be aware that because your skin is sensitive to light after surgery, it’s essential you remain inside and away from natural light. Avoid running errands or driving in the car to prevent even the slightest bit of sun exposure.
If you’re interested in receiving photodynamic therapy, contact our office to schedule a consultation with our specialists. We’re here to answer any questions you might have about the treatment and determine if this surgery is right for you.