Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic  therapy, or PDT is a safe and effective treatment for a number of skin conditions including cancerous lesions such as superficial basal cell carcinoma and Bowen’s disease, and  Actinic Keratosis (AK’s) – areas of sun damage that are considered pre-cancerous.  Increasingly, PDT treatment is also being used to treat patients with acne and oily skin. With PDT multiple lesions and large areas of sun damage can be treated at one time with very little recovery time and without any risk of permanent skin whitening or scarring.   There are two types of PDT, Metvix and Levulan.


Metvix and Levulan are photosensitizing agents that are applied to the skin and allowed to absorb for 180 minutes.  These agents preferentially  penetrate visible lesions as well as damaged cells below the surface destined to become AK’s.   The lesions are then exposed to daylight for several hours or to red or blue light for between 5 and 15 minutes which activates the medication and destroys the AK’s or skin cancers without affecting the surrounding tissue.  During light exposure patients will feel a tingling or burning sensation.  Once complete the area is covered in a white zinc oxide ointment which can be removed at bedtime. Daily use of sunscreen with an SPF 45 or more following treatment will be required. Most patients have a mild, sunburn-like reaction for several days and some will experience mild swelling, blistering or crusting.  One to two treatments may be required.

  • Actinic keratosis
  • Superficial basal cell carcinoma
  • Bowen’s disease

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