Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy

  • Minimally invasive with limited downtime
  • Usually only one treatment needed

Treatment for Pre-cancerous Lesions or Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment used for the clearance of certain types of skin cancer such as superficial basal cell carcinomas and pre-cancerous actinic keratoses.

It utilizes a combination of a photosensitizing drug (Metvix) and a specific calibrated light source. When the photosensitizer is exposed to the special light, it destroys the unhealthy cells.

PDT is considered an alternative to other skin treatments such as surgery for very select types of lesions. It can also be used for skin rejuvenation for cosmetic purposes such as acne and sun damage. Currently our clinic in Vancouver utilizes photodynamic therapy for medical purposes primarily.

What to Expect

The procedure starts with a vigorous scrub to remove the outermost layers of the skin. The photosensitizer cream is applied to the lesions, at times covered with a protective dressing and allowed to absorb into the skin from one to three hours. The medication is preferentially absorbed by the target cells during this incubation time.

The treatment area is then exposed to the light source for a period of approximately 10 minutes, at which point you will feel the sensation of tingling and/or slight to moderate burning while the medication starts to work.

Recovery involves five to seven days with appearance of sunburn-like redness, as well as some flaking and crusting at the lesion sites as the unwanted cells are shed and new healthy ones appear.

For two days after treatment, you will have to avoid sunlight as much as possible, especially covering up the areas of skin treated by photodynamic therapy. Many patients require one session of PDT, but further treatment may be required in approximately 25% of cases.

Note: Since this is a treatment for pre-cancerous skin lesions (actinic keratosis) or superficial type of basal cell carcinoma, the drug cost may be covered by third party insurance carriers. We can easily provide a receipt for this purpose.

If your doctor or dermatologist believes you have a precancerous lesion on your skin, contact us for a photodynamic therapy consultation.

  • Minimally invasive with limited downtime
  • Usually only one treatment needed
Before & After Photos
Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a referral for photodynamic therapy?

No a referral is not always necessary.

Who is this treatment suitable for?

This treatment may be offered to patients who have sun damaged skin or as a treatment for some forms of skin cancer.

Why do I have to wait after application of the cream?

The standardized regimen and approved incubation time produces the best results to achieve clearance of lesions and to provide results that can last up to five years.

How many photodynamic therapy treatments will I need?

Generally one treatment is prescribed. In some cases a second treatment may be required.

How long does a PDT treatment take?

A treatment will require approximately 2 – 4 hours of your time, depending on how many areas on the face and body will be treated during the session.

Are there any side effects to photodynamic therapy?

For many patients the effect is similar to a sunburn; the skin will get red, will feel hot and flushed. This may last for several days. The target cells will darken and migrate to the surface of the skin revealing new, fresh and delicate skin.

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