Acne Treatment with ALA/PDT
Acne is a common medical condition that affects upto 80 percent of adolescents & adults at some point in their lives. The bacterium responsible for causing acne inflammation is called Corynaebactrium Acne. It grows in the blocked sebaceous glands of the skin and causes inflammation to cause Acne. These bacteria release molecules called porphyrins. When these porphyrins are exposed to certain wavelength of light they produce free radicals which in turn kill the bacteria.
Blu-light therapy with levulan involves use of visible blue wavelength of light with Levulan. The Levulan (aminolevulinic acid) helps increase photosensivity. And the Blu light activates a toxic environment inside the pores and kills the acne-causing bacteria. Once the P.acne bacterium is removed, inflammation diminishes & acne clears up. The exposure to Blu-light is safe, easy & pain free.
The treatment is performed in a simple two step process. First, a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan (5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA) is applied onto the skin and left on for about 30-60 minutes. Then, it is activated with Blu-U light for about 8-10 minutes. These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and actinic keratosis. They also improve sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation. The ALA/PDT treatment also has the unique ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands. It also effectively treats stubborn acne vulgaris and acne rosacea and can improve the appearance of some acne scars.
Benefits of Treatment - Photodynamic Therapy
- Is painless and easy
- Reduces scars
- Improves the skin of the whole area treated
- Is long lasting
- Has no side effects
- Is non-invasive (no needles or surgery)
- Treats upto 80% of active acne.
Might be covered by your Medical Insurance!!
ALA/PDT treatment has been approved by the FDA and Health Protection Branch of Canada for safety and efficiency in treatment of acne and sun damaged skin. It is covered by some insurance companies. It can also be claimed as medical treatment for income tax purposes.
Number of treatments required
Three treatments, 2-4 weeks apart, are most effective for maximum improvement of acne vulgaris, pre-cancerous (actinic kerastosis) sun damage, poor skin tone and texture. However, this number varies depending on the severity of the case. Some patients with only actinic keratosis are happy with just one treatment. After the initial treatment, more treatments can be done in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.
The treated areas can appear red with some peeling for 2-7 days, depending on the sensitivity of the skin. After facial treatments, temporary swelling of the lips and around the eyes may occur for a few days. With mottled pigmentation, darker pigmented patches can become temporarily darker and then peel off, leaving normal skin within the span of 7-10 days. Since PDT is not an exact science, repeat treatments may be necessary.
Whether its severe sun damage, actinic keratosis, mottled pigmentation, skin laxity, large pores, pitted acne scars, or active acne, the results are excellent. If the treatment is specifically for mottled pigmentation on the face, not only will you see excellent improvement in the skin tone, but there might be improvement in any of the other skin conditions listed above.
Pre Treatment - Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
- Patients who have a history of recurring cold soars (Herpes simplex type 1) should start oral Valtrex 500 mg tablets 2 days prior to your PDT treatment and continue for 3 days after treatment.
- Make sure your skin is clean and free of all make-up, moisturizers and sunscreens. Bring a hat, sunglasses and a scarf with you to the clinic.
- Pictures will be taken prior to the Levulan being applied for clinic use only.
- You will need to sign a consent form prior to starting the treatment.
- An acetone scrub is performed. This will enhance the absorption of the Levulan and lead to much more even uptake of Levulan.
- Levulan is applied topically to the whole area to be treated (such as whole face, back of the hands, extensor part of the forearms). Dr. Mohan or his staff will apply the Levulan.
- The Levulan is left on for 3 to 70 minutes before any light treatment.
- The Levulan is activated with Blue 'U' light. This unique spectrum of light activates the Levulan beginning with low energy levels.
- This treatment has minimal discomfort but requires about 90-120 minutes to complete.
Post Treatment - Photodynamic Therapy (Blu-U)
1 Day of treatment:
- Remain indoors if possible and avoid direct sunlight.
- Take analgesics such as Tylenol or Advil if necessary.
- Apply Hydrocortisone 1% ointment, Vaseline or Catrix ointment at night. Your skin will feel dry; keep it moisturized.
- Apply ice pack to treated area every 20 mins for 10 mins, for a total time of 2hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.
- You may take a shower. Men should try not to shave their face if it was treated.
- You may take analgesics. Any discomfort usually subsides by Day 3.
- You should avoid sunlight and try to remain indoors on Day 2. The photosensitivity to sunlight is usually gone 24 hours after treatment, but may last as long as 40 hours.
- You should soak the treated area with a solution of 1 tsp. white vinegar in 1 cup of cold water for 20 minutes every 4 to 6 hours. Ice may be applied directly over the vinegar soaks.
The area should be patted dry and Hydrocortisone 1% ointment reapplied following the vinegar soaks.
- You may begin applying make-up once any crusting has healed. The area may be slightly red for a few weeks.
- The skin will feel dry and tightened. A good moisturizer should be used daily.
- Try to avoid direct sunlight for one week. No beaches! Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 for four months.