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photodynamic therapy pittsburghPhotodynamic acne therapy involves the application of Levulan® photosensitizing solution to the treatment area followed by exposure to a light source. Levulan® is commonly used in photodynamic acne therapy and has been shown to significantly improve mild to moderate acne. Levulan® photodynamic acne therapy is an effective alternative for patients whose skin has become resistant to antibiotic treatments over time. As well as for those who want to avoid the hassle of applying topical ointments and creams such as Accutane®.

Levulan® is made from aminolevulinic acid, or ALA, a naturally occurring substance in the body. Because Levulan® makes your skin extremely sensitive to light, it is important to avoid exposure to sunlight and bright indoor lighting while the solution is on your skin and for at least 48 hours after treatment. Sunscreens do not protect the skin from overexposure after treatment with Levulan®.

The Procedure

Depending on the area being treated, microdermabrasion begins the process. Then, Levulan will be applied and allowed to incubate for a specified amount of time. Levulan is preferentially absorbed by certain cells such as precancerous skin cells, oil glands, pores and other structures. Consequently making them more sensitive to light. After the incubation period the Levulan washes off with soap and water. Finally, a laser treatment using the BBL is performed. Because your skin will be very sensitive to the sun, we always apply sun block after the procedure. Using this technology we can treat actinic keratoses, rosacea, acne, photo damage and other conditions without surgery and/or medications. Generally 3-6 treatments are required for optimal results which also depend on the condition being treated. Acne and rosacea can be chronic condition; therefore, maintenance treatments may be necessary to remain in remission.

The staff will tell you if you’re a good candidate for a photodynamic therapy. But, in general, if you are pregnant, have been on Accutane within 3 months, or have an active cold sore you should not have this procedure. If you are tan or have recently been exposed to the sun in the area you are having treated, you may be more susceptible to potential side effects, such as blisters or crusting. Your treatment may need to be reduced in intensity or postponed until the tan fades. You should not be treated with Levulan if you have skin sensitivity to blue light, porphyria (a disorder of the metabolism that can lead to sensitivity to light) or allergies to chemicals called porphyrins.

About side effects

The majority of clients undergoing a photodynamic therapy have minimal discomfort with no adverse effects or very mild redness and peeling. About one quarter of clients will have redness and peeling with some discomfort that lasts for 2-3 days. This looks and feels similar to sunburn. A very slight number of clients experience extreme redness, peeling, pustules and/or blisters as well as significant pain that can last for 5-10 days. The area will be sensitive to sunlight or other intense light sources for 48 hours after the Levulan application. It is very important to stay out of direct light, even prolonged exposure through a car window, for 24-36 hours. It is also extremely important that following a treatment a sunscreen with zinc oxide and SPF #30 or higher is used regularly for at least the first 48 hours.