Photodynamic Therapy

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An effective, non-surgical treatment for skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) helps clear certain types of skin cancer (such as superficial basal cell carcinoma) and pre-cancerous lesions (actinic keratoses). PDT is considered an alternative to surgery for select types of lesions. This treatment can also rejuvenate skin that’s been damaged by acne or sun exposure.

Treatment Benefits

How does Photodynamic Therapy work?

By combining a photosensitizer cream (called Metvix) to the lesion and exposing it to a calibrated light source, PDT destroys unhealthy cells.

When you come in for treatment, we’ll start by scrubbing the affected area to remove the outermost layer of skin. We’ll apply Metvix to the lesions, which should be absorbed in 1-3 hours.

Once your skin is ready, we’ll perform light therapy for about 10 minutes. You’ll feel a tingling sensation from the Metvix activation. You may also feel some slight to moderate burning, which is completely normal and shows that the treatment is working.

Over the next 5-7 days, you can expect to see some sunburn-like redness, flaking, and crusting at the lesion sites. The unwanted cells eventually fall away and fresh, healthy skin regrows underneath.

Your skin will be especially sensitive following PDT, so to prevent a sunburn, avoid sunlight for 2 days after treatment. You may even want to cover up the treated area to prevent any light from touching it. While you’ll likely only need one treatment, some people require a follow up visit.

Since this treatment is for pre-cancerous skin conditions, some third-party insurance carriers may cover the drug cost. We’ll happily give you a receipt for this if you need one.

What is actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratoses are spots caused by overexposure to the sun. They’re small, rough and scaly patches, typically red or flesh-coloured. These lesions are made up of pre-cancerous cells and indicate a higher risk for developing into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.

If you think you may have actinic keratoses, talk to a dermatologist as soon as possible and seek treatment if needed.

Treatment areas

  • Improve your skin tone and reduce acne scars

  • Remove even the most complex and colourful tattoos

  • Reduce brown spots and pigment from sun damage

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a referral for photodynamic therapy?
Who is this treatment suitable for?
Why do I have to wait after application of the cream?
How many photodynamic therapy treatments will I need?
How long does a PDT treatment take?
Are there any side effects to photodynamic therapy?