Photodynamic Therapy for Actinic Keratosis

Photodynamic Therapy, also known as PDT, is a unique non-invasive treatment to address precancerous and cancerous lesions such as actinic keratoses on the skin. PDT is used to help eradicate the precancerous lesions that have developed on the face and scalp as a result of chronic sun exposure over the years. By eliminating these precancerous lesions, one hopes to prevent the subsequent development of skin cancers in the future. PDT is also known to improve the clarity of the skin tone and improve the damage caused by long term sun exposure.

Treatment involves applying a sunscreen prior to therapy and then coming into the office. The precancerous lesions are then treated by means of light curettage (scrapping of the skin with a small instrument) followed by application of the Metvix over those areas as well as the rest of the face and scalp. One then sits outside for a period of 2 ½ - 3 hours. This can be done out of doors during the fine months of the year or even inside as long as there is direct light shining on your skin. This treatment utilizes the visible light range and not ultraviolet light which is blocked by window glass. Once the skin + the Metvix is activated by the visible light range, a form of oxygen is created which selectively targets the precancerous lesions, leaving surrounding tissues unharmed.

Generally speaking most patients will have anywhere from 3 – 7 days of downtime in which there may be redness, scabbing and crusting.

What are the advantages of Photodynamic therapy over traditional therapies?
Firstly this treatment is designed as “field” therapy in which the whole face / scalp can be treated at once. More traditional therapies such as liquid nitrogen do not address patients with multiple lesions or those that have undetected lesions which will eventually develop into the scaly lesions on the face. Also the downtime is significantly less than traditional prescription preparations which result in downtime of 5-6 weeks on average

How often is treatment done?
On average patients initially receive 2 treatments over a period of 3-6 months and then usually once yearly depending upon the number of lesions.

What is the Cost of therapy?
If one has a drug plan, then your plan should cover the cost of the Metvix (approximately $400) or whatever percentage your coverage involves. We charge a facility fee of $300 to do the treatments.