Photodynamic Therapy (Red Light and Blue Light Therapy)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) treats pre-cancerous growths and sun-damaged skin.
What to Expect During PDT Treatment
- We use the Painless PDT Protocol Developed by the Cleveland Clinic.
- If you have a history of cold sores, please tell your provider, as Blue or Red light might reactive cold sores. This can be prevented or treated with an antiviral medication your provider can prescribe you.
- At the beginning of the procedure, a topical medication is applied to the skin.
- The medication is activated through exposure to a specific wavelength of light, Red or Blue light, for between 10 and 30 minutes.
- Most people return to work within one to two days after the procedure. You should expect redness and skin peeling for 4-14 days after your treatment.
- After your treatment, you will need to avoid direct sunlight for two days. When you are outside, you should wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing and seek shade. While you can run normal errands, you should not be outside for prolonged periods of time as the medication can be activated by the sun. This can cause a more severe reaction.
- Patients may need multiple PDT sessions for optimal results. This is more common with more severe sun damage and increased numbers of precancerous growths. Sessions are spaced two to five weeks apart and can be continued afterward to help maintain the initial results of the treatment.
What are the Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy?
PDT is a generally safe procedure, but there are certain risks and side effects associated with this procedure. Some of these risks and side effects include redness, discoloration, and infection. These side effects are usually mild and usually go away within a few weeks. Other side effects include reactivation of herpes simplex virus (cold sore virus). If you have cold sores or a history of the HSV virus, please let your provider know, as they can prescribe an antiviral medication for you.
What is Photodynamic Therapy Used For?
How Does Photodynamic Therapy Work?
Photodynamic therapy is a three-step treatment for precancerous growths. A photosensitizing medication is applied to the treatment area, and a light source activates the medication. The resulting activation kills precancerous cells that absorb the medication. The treatment area then heals over the next 4-14 days. PDT treatment is most commonly used to remove abnormal cells that cause actinic keratosis, a pre-cancerous condition, as well as other precancerous skin growths.