Photodynamic Therapy for Acne

PDT is a light-based alternative treatment for those with moderate to severe acne that want to avoid oral medications. PDT uses a special photosensitizing solution called 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA). After the skin is cleansed, this solution is applied to the affected areas of the skin and allowed to soak in, or incubate, for approximately 60 minutes. During this time, the solution is absorbed into the pores and oil glands. After incubation, the skin is exposed to a blue and red light that activates the ALA deep in the skin/oil glands. Once activated, the ALA works by shrinking the oil glands, which will then lead to a decrease in oil production. The PDT treatment also kills the bacteria that can contribute to the development of acne lesions. By normalizing the turnover of the skin and helping the skin shed dead cells more effectively, PDT can help unclog pores which leads to a decrease in blackheads, whiteheads, acne bumps, and pimples on the skin. PDT often leaves the skin red and scaly for a few days after treatment; similar to the reaction you get with a sunburn.

ALA is a “natural” product found in all humans throughout the body. It is a precursor for hemoglobin synthesis which creates red blood cells. ALA/PDT treatment also has the unique ability to minimize the appearance of pores and reduce the size of oil glands, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and improving the appearance of some acne scars.

A short series of Photodynamic Acne treatments can have your skin predominantly clear for up to 18 months and ongoing sessions, when needed, may be able to keep your skin looking normal indefinitely. Two or three treatments at 4-week intervals generally obtain the best results.

A PDT series will also help smooth your skin texture and to some degree minimize acne scars. By controlling acne in the earlier stages, you can prevent many of the potential scars. Milder acne may not require this level of treatment and may respond quickly to simple Blue and Red Light alone (without ALA), which is also a safe option for our pregnant patients.

An important part of the treatment program is the medical extraction of blackheads and the release of acne pustules. This procedure will expedite the improvement in your skin condition by cleaning the pores of hardened sebum and debris.

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