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Photodynamic Light Therapy (PDT)

PDT is a procedure that uses a photosensitizing drug to apply light therapy selectively to target pre-skin cancers, acne and sun damage. PDT can help clear the skin of actinic keratoses (AKs), acne, rosacea. PDT can also help prevent skin cancer.

What to expect before and during the procedure:

  • Bring a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella to protect you from the sun. 

  • Male patients: you may shave before PDT. You may keep your beard as well. 

  • Stop Vitamin A creams (e.g., tretinoin, adapalene, Retin-A, Atralin, etc.) for 3 days prior to PDT. 

  • The skin will be cleansed to increase penetration. 

  • The medicine will be applied and will be absorbed for 1-2 hours, depending on your condition. 

  • We use either a blue light or intense pulsed light to treat the skin. 

  • During the treatment, you may feel some burning discomfort during the treatment lessened by fans or cold air.


After the Treatment:

  • After treatment, the skin will be light sensitive for 48 hrs. 

    – Avoid bright light, including exam room examination lights, operating room lamps, tanning bed lights, and household lights at close range. 

  • Hats, scarves and thick sun block with zinc oxide and light avoidance are required to protect the skin. Sunscreens will not reliably protect against continued photosensitivity. 

  • Usually, redness and mild peeling occur for 2-3 days. Occasionally, burning discomfort can continue for 24 hours and more prolonged peeling and redness 5-14 days can occur. Rarely, symptoms may last for up to 4 weeks. 

  • Apply moisturizers as needed.






  • Severe reactions occur usually because: 1) large number of pre-skin cancers (more drug is absorbed); 2) excessive sun exposure during the 48 hour window 

    – Driving in the car is NOT “staying inside” 

    – The sun’s rays penetrate through window glass & high SPF sun block is not enough. 

    – People who have severe reactions often have excellent results. 

  • Scaling/crusting, hypo/hyper-pigmentation, itching, stinging, and/or burning, erythema and edema. Severe stinging and/or burning was reported by approximately 50% of patients.

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