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What is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cutting-edge medical procedure designed to target skin cancer cells and precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses. PDT is also used to treat other medical conditions, such as acne, psoriasis, and age-related macular degeneration. PDT is a two-step pre-cancer treatment. First, a photosensitizing agent, aminolevulinic acid (Levulan), is administered topically to the treatment area. A photosensitive drug like Levulan is absorbed by skin cancer cells in the applied treatment area. The second part of the treatment is the use of blue light to activate this photosensitizer drug that has been applied to actinic keratoses or skin cancer cells. The Levulan is sensitive to a distinct wavelength of light, leaving the normal skin cells unaffected. In other variations of PDT, the light source may be a red light, laser light, blue light, or a light-emitting diode (LED) light. At her private NYC dermatology office, Dr. Michele Green utilizes PDT with blue light to treat pre-cancer cells, sun damage, acne, and psoriasis.

Photodynamic therapy is a very elegant way to remove superficial skin cancer without any disruption to your normal daily activities. Unlike some other cancer treatments, PDT has very little downtime and few side effects, making PDT a very popular procedure for superficial skin cancer treatment and photodamage. It is a completely non-invasive procedure, which means that you can return home immediately after your outpatient treatment procedure and resume normal activities immediately after treatment. The treatment has been shown to be just as effective at eliminating superficial skin cancer as surgery without damaging the normal cells in the treatment area, thereby preventing unwanted scars. Additionally, there are no long-term side effects associated with the treatment.

When looking to treat several forms of cancer, pre-cancerous lesions, and a variety of skin conditions with photodynamic therapy, there are only a few doctor’s offices and dermatologists with the proper equipment and expertise. In New York City, experienced, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green is able to treat patients with PDT in her Upper East Side dermatology office. Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors consistently identify Dr. Green as one of the best physicians in New York for her expertise and dedication to patient care. With the photosensitizing agent Levulan Kerastick, Dr. Green is able to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions, called actinic keratoses, stubborn acne vulgaris, and other forms of sun damage. Dr. Green has been recognized as an international expert in dermatology and in cosmetically elegant ways of removing photodamage and precancerous lesions to leave you with a healthy, beautiful, clear complexion.

What is photodynamic therapy used to treat?

There are many uses for photodynamic therapy, or phototherapy, for skin conditions, cancers, and pre-cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, photodynamic therapy can be used to treat a variety of different types of cancer and cancer symptoms. Specifically, the treatment is best for cancers that affect the head and neck, skin, and lungs, including advanced cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Barrett esophagus, Basal cell skin cancer, stage 0 of squamous cell skin cancer (also known as Bowen’s disease), throat cancer (also known as esophageal cancer), and non-small cell lung cancer. PDT can also be used for the pre-cancerous stage of skin cancer, called actinic skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancer. Certain cancer symptoms can also be relieved with the help of PDT treatment, including reducing throat blockage that occurs as a result of esophageal cancer and blocked airways that result from non-small cell lung cancer. PDT can also be used to address several other conditions that affect the skin, including psoriasis, acne vulgaris, age-related macular degeneration, and warts.

How does photodynamic therapy work?

Photodynamic therapy involves three steps in order to function properly: (1) the administration of the photosensitizing agent, (2) the incubation or drug-to-light interval, and (3) the light activation. First, the photosensitizing agent is administered to the patient via topical application to the affected area of the skin. Over several hours to 72 hours (depending on the type of photosensitizing agent), the drug will travel through the patient’s body and leave the normal cells. However, the photosensitizing drug remains in the cancerous cells or harmful agents in the body. During the incubation phase, the photosensitizer drug is non-toxic and does not affect the cells or tissue in the body. The drug becomes activated, however, when a specific wavelength of light is shone onto the treatment area. When the photosensitizing agent is activated, it produces a particular form of oxygen, which is known as an oxygen radical, that targets and kills the cells that have absorbed the drug, which kills them. The activation of the drug can also cause damage to the blood vessels in the treatment area, which prevents blood from reaching the cancerous cells.

The two most widely used photosensitizing agents require different kinds of light to activate them: Porfimer sodium (photofrin) and Aminolevulinic acid (also known as ALA or Levulan). Porfimer sodium is FDA-approved to treat certain forms of lung and esophageal cancer and is activated by a red laser light. ALA, on the other hand, is used to treat pre-cancerous actinic keratosis and other forms of skin cancer. ALA is activated via the use of blue light and is most frequently used to treat the face and scalp.

Which types of skin cancer is PDT/Blue Light used for?

Photodynamic therapy with blue light is used to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses. Actinic keratoses develop as a result of excess or cumulative sun exposure and can take the form of red, pink, or flesh-colored scaly patches on the skin. Many of these lesions developing on the surface of the skin may not be uncomfortable, although they can be unsightly and potentially develop into skin cancer. If you notice the formation of new or irregular skin lesions, it is always best to have them examined by a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in NYC, to ensure that they do not develop into skin cancers. For patients with many actinic keratosis lesions, PDT Is the optimal treatment, as the procedure can treat all of the lesions in one area in as little as one session.

The Blue Light treatment is a straightforward two-part process. The Blue light treatment is paired with the photosensitizing agent, Aminolevulinic acid, also known as ALA or Levulan. This photosensitive drug is applied directly to the skin in the treatment area. The incubation period is generally fairly short- typically, the Levulan is cleaned from the skin with water after one hour. The Levulan is absorbed by pre-cancer cells, which prepares them to be destroyed by the blue light. The treatment area is then exposed to a particular wavelength of blue light, which destroys the pre-cancer cells. The precancerous actinic keratoses “light up,” get more red after treatment, and disappear in a number of days. Dr. Green may ask you to send her a photo of the treated area the day after your photodynamic therapy in order to reassess the affected areas. Several weeks after your first PDT session, Dr. Green will reevaluate the skin lesions to determine whether a second treatment session is needed.

What is the process of PDT?

Photodynamic therapy works by utilizing a photosensitizing agent and a light source that activates this medication. There are different photosensitive drugs used, such as Levulan, 5-aminolevulinic acid, and methyl aminolevulinate (MAL-PDT). The light-sensitizing medication that Dr. Green utilizes at her private dermatology office is called Levulan. Photodynamic therapy is a three-part treatment process. First is the application of a photosensitive drug, the second is the incubation period involved, and last is the light activation. Each of the steps in the photodynamic therapy treatment is described below:

Step 1:  Application of photosensitive drug

Once you arrive at Dr. Green’s dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the treatment area is cleaned of any moisturizers or sunscreens. Isopropyl alcohol may be used before your treatment to remove any makeup or oils from your face. Pre-treatment photographs are taken for your patient record, and you will be provided with a consent form to sign. To begin the treatment, the photosensitizing agent, Levulan Kerastick Topical solution (20% delta-aminolevulinic acid HCL), is applied to the treated area, which is typically the face. Other areas, such as the back, chest, or scalp, can be treated as well. The medicine is allowed to air dry for a few minutes, and then patients wait in the office for an hour or more for the Levulan to incubate.

AS BluLight Before And After MGWatermark

Blu-U light & Levulan treatment before and after

Step 2:  Incubation time

The incubation time for Levulan in the treatment area is typically one hour. Levulan is a clear liquid that is applied, and there is no discomfort during this incubation period. The incubation period for the face is 60 minutes. Other areas of the body may have longer incubation times. Some areas, such as the back, chest, arms, or legs, may need incubation times of more than one hour. Dr. Green will designate your incubation time depending on the treatment area.

Step 3:  Light Activation

Once the incubation time has elapsed, the Levulan is removed completely with water. There are many different PDT light sources, which include laser light, intense pulsed light, blue light, red light, and visible light, including natural sunlight. The patient sits in front of the UV light; most commonly, blue light (BLU-U) is used. The light source needs to be directly applied to the treatment area where the photosensitive drug was applied. With BLU-U, typically, the treatment area is six inches away from the light source during the procedure. The patient sits in front of the blue light for approximately 16 minutes while the light source activates the Levulan. Most patients prefer to sit up in a comfortable chair facing the BLU-U light when treating the face. When treating other areas, such as the legs, you can lie down on the exam table to complete your treatment. Eye shields are worn during the procedure to help protect your eyes from the UV blue light.

Levulan can cause sun sensitivity to the treated area for 24-72 hours after exposure. It does not cause sun sensitivity on other parts of the body where the Levulan was not applied. It is best to avoid direct light or sunlight in your treatment area for 24-72 hours after your procedure. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, as well as sunscreen, are recommended. When you have photodynamic therapy with Dr. Green, she will provide you with all of the pertinent aftercare information required to achieve and maintain the best results.

What are the possible side effects of photodynamic therapy (PDT)?

The possible side effects of photodynamic therapy include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Peeling
  • Crusting
  • Burning
  • Sunburn
  • Temporary hyperpigmentation
  • Stinging
  • Blisters

Approximately 50% of patients experience stinging or burning during the treatments. This burning usually plateaus within 5 to 6 minutes of treatment. We often apply a fan to cool the area during the treatment to improve patient comfort.

Most of the side effects that are potentially associated with PDT are minor and resolve themselves on their own within a couple of days post-treatment. One type of photosensitizer drug, called porfimer sodium, which is used to treat some forms of lung and esophageal cancer, can be associated with sensitivity to light for as much as six weeks post-treatment. In that case, patients should avoid direct sunlight as well as bright indoor lights and reflective surfaces. In rare cases, depending on the part of the body and type of cancer being treated, more serious side effects may occur, including:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Stomach pain

Who is the ideal patient for photodynamic therapy in dermatology?

Results with ALA-PDT photodynamic therapy are impressive. For patients with acne vulgaris who are not responding to topical or oral antibiotics, photodynamic therapy is a great option. It can be performed on all skin types with minimal side effects. ALA-PDT treats the active acne lesions and active pimples, decreases comedonal acne, kills the bacteria that cause acne, and improves the appearance of acne scars. Again, it is a very popular alternative for many patients who are reluctant to take oral medications or unable to take isotretinoin (Accutane) and want to avoid systemic side effects. Photodynamic therapy will leave your skin smooth and reduce both acne and acne scars on your face.

35-44 year old man treated with photodynamic therapy to remove red spots

In addition, patients who have had chronic sun damage and many pre-cancers benefit from ALA-PDT as it treats and removes actinic keratosis and the surrounding sun-damaged skin. Most patients prefer photodynamic therapy over Efudex cream to treat actinic keratosis since the cream needs to be used for several weeks and leaves patients red, sore, and scaly for a prolonged period, rather than the typical 48 hours from photodynamic therapy. The other huge advantage of photodynamic therapy over spot treatment of actinic keratoses is that the entire face can be treated in one session. The entire face will be treated, leaving even, rejuvenated skin, treating the entire photo-damaged area. Unlike other spot treatments for the face, such as liquid nitrogen, there is no risk of hypopigmentation or scarring associated with ALA-PDT. All skin types can be treated with photodynamic therapy. However, care must be used in treating Fitzpatrick skin types III or greater, as they have an increased risk of temporary hyperpigmentation.

Photodynamic therapy can only be performed in a dermatology office, such as the NYC office of Dr. Michele Green. Since this treatment is more expensive than prescription medications, it is best to check directly with your health insurance company to ascertain if they cover this treatment for your skin. If you have any pre-existing photosensitive conditions, such as lupus erythematous or porphyria, it is best to tell Dr. Green before your procedure. If you have an active herpetic or bacterial infection, it is best to let Dr. Green know before prescribing the proper oral antivirals or antibacterial medications and possibly defer treatment until the condition resolves.

Does Photodynamic therapy treat cancer? PDT/ Blue Light for Actinic Keratoses and Skin Cancer

PDT is an elegant way to treat abnormal cells or skin cancers from the face. PDT was originally FDA-approved to treat skin cancer. The very superficial skin cancers are called actinic keratoses. The prompt treatment of these superficial pre-cancers prevents these abnormal cells from growing and transforming into deeper skin cancers. PDT has also been used to treat other skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.

PDT works by direct injury to the targeted abnormal cells. Activated oxygen molecules that injure or destroy precancerous lesions are produced. Since the normal skin barrier is not present at the sites of the actinic keratoses, the photosensitizing molecules are absorbed by this sun-damaged skin and are activated by light. These activated oxygen molecules, porphyrins, treat these actinic keratoses and leave normal skin undamaged. Several weeks after treatment, it is important to follow up with your dermatologist to ensure which areas were treated and see if any of the remaining areas need to be biopsied for possible deeper skin cancer.

Originally, Blue light or PDT was used for the treatment of actinic keratoses of the face and scalp. Now, this method of treatment is utilized for the neck, chest, arms, legs, and trunk. The number of treatments for actinic keratoses depends on the amount, number, and severity of your precancerous lesions. Typically, three sessions are indicated, four weeks apart, with a greater number of treatments being advised in more severe cases. When you have photodynamic therapy with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to create a customized treatment plan and timeline that best suits your skin condition.

How can photodynamic therapy treat acne?

While PDT was originally approved by the FDA for the treatment of actinic keratoses, after various clinical trials, it was determined that PDT is a safe and effective way of treating acne vulgaris, cystic acne, acne scars, and severe acne. PDT works by shrinking the skin’s oil glands and reducing its oil production. Reducing the oil in the sebaceous glands reduces sebum production, and the result is that the pores are not clogged. It further decreases the number of comedones produced and the overall number of pimples and comedones with acne lesions. PDT’s mechanism of action is that it causes phototoxic damage to sebaceous glands and hair follicles. PDT for acne vulgaris has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment for patients with severe acne who do not respond to traditional topical acne treatments. ALA-PDT (5-aminolevulinic acid with PDT) has also been used for patients who have severe acne for whom isotretinoin (Accutane) is not an option. In addition, ALA-PDT has been proven to kill the bacteria p.acnes, which causes acne. Photodynamic therapy not only reduces the acne but improves the skin’s overall texture and the appearance of acne scars.

Photodynamic therapy for acne usually begins with microdermabrasion to remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Having microdermabrasion before the Levulan is applied allows the medication to have better penetration. Levulan is then applied to the skin for 15 to 60 minutes and later removed thoroughly with water. The patient is positioned to sit in front of the Blu-U and has blue light therapy for approximately 16 minutes. A series of three to five PDT treatments are typically performed in a period of four-week intervals. The number of PDT treatments will be determined during your consultation and based on the severity of your acne. Most patients see improvement in their acne after a single treatment, but the rest results come with the full course of treatment.

How do I prepare for my treatment?

It is best to come into the office for your procedure without any makeup or sunscreen. You should continue your regular medications but refrain from Retin-A or any exfoliating creams for a few days before your treatment. You should bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to the appointment. If you are having your arms treated, you should wear a long-sleeve shirt, and if your hands are being treated, bring gloves. You may also want to bring personal musical earphones to listen to music or a podcast during your treatment time. In addition, you will be advised to come to the office at least one hour before your scheduled treatment time for Dr. Green to apply the Levulan medication. If you have an area that requires a longer incubation time, you may need to come to the office earlier. Patients are encouraged to avoid smoking for one week after the procedure, as smoking delays wound healing.

What to expect after photodynamic therapy?

Patients are thrilled with this procedure as there is minimal downtime, and it is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients may return home immediately after the treatment. Depending on the degree of actinic keratoses, the best treatment results may take three or more sessions. PDT or Blue Light may also be combined at different periods with such treatments as Intense Pulsed LightV-Beam (pulsed dye laser), or Fraxel® Dual Laser in order to remove sunspots, rosacea, and sun damage and leave the skin rejuvenated and beautiful as possible. PDT has been described as a “super photo facial” when it is combined with intense pulsed light or IPL.

What should I avoid after photodynamic therapy?

It is essential to avoid sun and UV exposure for the first 48 hours after your photodynamic therapy treatment. This is because PDT increases the skin’s photosensitivity. Sunscreen is also an essential component after the treatment to prevent future sun damage and pre-cancers. Avoiding sunlight for the first 24 hours is critical to avoid getting an increased erythematous reaction to the treatment. Other sun protection includes wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing. PDT treatment can cause hypersensitivity to light such that even very bright indoor light can be irritating. Patients should avoid bright lights or reflective spaces for several days post-treatment while sensitivity persists.

Patients are advised not to go into saunas or steam rooms for the first few days, as heat exposure can cause skin irritation in the treated area. It is also recommended to avoid using any exfoliating skincare products, including retinoids or alpha hydroxy acid creams. Dr. Green also recommends applying gentle lotions or emollients to the treated area for at least one week to promote healing. It is advised not to pick or scrub the skin after the procedure as this could lead to scarring or infection. If patients feel any mild discomfort after the procedure, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or another mild pain reliever can be taken. When you have photodynamic therapy with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will provide you with all of the pertinent aftercare information required for achieving and maintaining the best results.

45-54 year old man treated with BLU-U light (2 weeks post treatment)

How long does it take to recover from photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that does not require much downtime. Some common side effects of PDT treatment include a sunburn-like quality to the skin in the treatment area, which can include redness, itchiness, and swelling. It is important to refrain from UV light exposure for 24 hours after the procedure because PDT increases skin photosensitivity. Any unwanted side effects from the BLU Light procedure should resolve within 2-3 days. Certain photosensitizing agents may also cause an increased sensitivity to light for some time after receiving treatment.

Can I exercise after photodynamic therapy?

Post-photodynamic therapy treatment, several activities should be avoided in the days following the procedure, including strenuous physical activity. For the 48 hours following the PDT treatment, it is important to avoid excessive heat. This can include staying away from saunas, hot tubs, and jacuzzis, as well as refraining from strenuous exercise. Once the 48 hours have passed, patients can return to their regular exercise routines.

Does photodynamic therapy help wrinkles?

While photodynamic therapy is most well-known for cancer and pre-cancer treatments, research has begun to emerge that PDT can also be used for cosmetic purposes. According to a study done by Wolfgang Philipp-Dormston (available on; DOI: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2012.08046.x), the PDT treatment also works to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles in the treatment area and to improve skin texture. The implications suggest that PDT treatment could be a useful procedure in the lineup of treatments to reverse signs of the natural aging process. Dr. Green is very experienced in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in her NYC dermatology office. If you are feeling self-conscious about the signs of aging, there are many non-invasive, safe, and effective options available, and you can make a consultation appointment with Dr. Green today.

What is blue light photodynamic therapy?

Blue light photodynamic therapy is a specific kind of photodynamic therapy that is primarily used to treat sun damage and early stages of skin cancer. These pre-cancerous skin lesions, known as actinic keratoses, can appear as scaly red or pink patches on the surface of the skin and can become very dangerous if not removed. Blue light photodynamic therapy works in the same way as other forms of PDT: first, the photosensitizing agent is applied directly to the treatment area. When using blue light PDT, the photosensitizing agent that is used is known as Aminolevulinic acid (ALA or Levulan). Once the agent has incubated – for approximately one hour – a blue light is shone onto the treatment area. The light reacts with the photosensitizing agent that remains in the pre-cancerous cells and works to destroy them. After approximately one week, the actinic keratoses legions will fade from the skin.

What is photodynamic therapy for cancer?

Photodynamic therapy can be used to treat a variety of cancers, including skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinomas, Bowen’s disease, lung cancers, neck cancers, and advanced cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cancer. PDT works by targeting the tumor cells through specific wavelengths of light and by triggering the patient’s immune system. Cancer treatment is one of the primary uses for photodynamic therapy. It is a safe and effective way to target cancers in areas that are difficult to reach using other methods. Photodynamic therapy has been shown to be as effective as radiation therapy. PDT has the added benefit of being an outpatient procedure that has no long-term side effects. Researchers are also studying the effects of PDT as a tumor cell vaccine to generate an anti-tumor or auto-immune response for cancer patients.

How can photodynamic therapy treat cancer?

Photodynamic therapy can be used to treat a variety of forms of cancer, including skin, lung, and esophageal cancers. When used to treat cancer, the photosensitizing agent is administered to the treatment area, and the incubation period begins. Once the photosensitizer has moved through the normal cells, it remains in the cancerous cells. Then, when the specific wavelength of light is shone on the affected area, the light activates the drug, which then kills the cancerous cells.

When treating forms of skin cancer, the photosensitizer can be applied topically to the surface of the skin, and then the light is shone directly onto the affected area. If PDT is being used to treat esophageal or lung cancer, the oncology nurse performing the procedure will use an endoscope inserted into your throat to see the treatment area. Following the insertion of the endoscope, the doctor will shine a line via a fiber optic cable onto the tumor to destroy the cancer cells.

What is photodynamic therapy primarily used to treat?

Photodynamic therapy has a range of uses, from treating a wide variety of head, lung, skin, and neck cancers to cosmetic concerns such as severe acne vulgaris and fine lines and wrinkles. Photodynamic therapy can effectively be performed at a certified dermatologist’s office, such as Dr. Green. At Dr. Green’s office, patients can receive photodynamic therapy for a variety of purposes; Dr. Green is an expert in treating dermatologic skin conditions, such as actinic keratoses and other pre-cancerous lesions, hyperpigmentation due to excess sun exposure, and severe cases of acne. The collagen and elastin-producing effects of the treatment also make it effective in addressing signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles and rough or pigmented patches of skin.

Does photodynamic therapy work? How effective is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions and different types of cancer. Studies have shown that photodynamic therapy works just as well to reduce the prevalence of cancerous cells as radiation therapy and surgery for certain forms of cancer or pre-cancer. Another benefit of the treatment is that it does not cause damage to normal cells and tissue in the treatment area. After the treatment, there may be redness, swelling, and irritation on the surface of the skin, but PDT is much less disruptive to the body as a whole than radiation therapy is, and it is non-invasive. The procedure is also an outpatient procedure, meaning that patients can go home following the treatment rather than staying in the hospital or healthcare facility.

What do I do after photodynamic therapy?

Following photodynamic therapy, patients should be careful to avoid sun exposure or bright light. PDT can cause increased sensitivity to light, and further, direct sunlight on the treatment area following the procedure can inhibit the healing process. The amount of time that patients remain sensitive to light following the treatment depends on the type of photosensitizing agent used and the area that is being treated. Patients receiving photodynamic therapy for skin cancer or actinic keratosis will likely experience photosensitivity for only 48 hours post-treatment. The area treated by the procedure may be red, itchy, and flaky in the days following and, in some more severe cases, can appear blistered. It may feel a bit like a sunburn; however, the side effects will fade after several days on their own.

Is photodynamic therapy safe?

Photodynamic therapy is a very safe and effective treatment for a variety of cancers and skin conditions. The side effects of the treatment are usually fairly mild, including redness, swelling, and irritation to the surface of the skin, and resolve themselves quickly following the treatment. The treatment is non-invasive, meaning no surgery is necessary, and for that reason, it is much lower risk and does not cause scarring. Further, PDT therapy does not damage healthy, normal cells in the body, unlike some other common cancer therapies.

Does photodynamic therapy hurt? How painful is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy is a non-invasive treatment but may be painful or cause discomfort to some patients. Approximately half of patients report feeling a stinging or burning sensation during the treatment. For patients feeling this discomfort, Dr. Green may fan the area in order to keep the skin feeling cool throughout the procedure.

Can I apply makeup after photodynamic therapy?

When treating skin conditions such as acne vulgaris and more, photodynamic therapy may be used to target harmful cells and agents on the face. The treatment has the potential to leave the skin red, swollen, and irritated for several days following the procedure. During that time, Dr. Green advised that you wait to wear makeup until the side effects have been resolved. When you come for the treatment, Dr. Green also suggests that you do not wear makeup as it will need to be removed before the photosensitizing agent is applied.

How much does photodynamic therapy cost?

The cost of PDT is dependent on several factors, including your geographic location, the type of institution at which you are receiving treatment, and the size and scope of the treatment area. Photodynamic therapy is a very specialized treatment that requires specific equipment, which limits the kinds of dermatology offices that offer this special treatment, like Dr. Green’s New York dermatology office. For lung or esophageal cancer patients, an oncology center will offer the treatment. In contrast, those patients with skin cancer or precancerous lesions can seek treatment from a dermatologist, such as Dr. Green. PDT can be performed on a number of areas of the body that range in size, and the number of treatment areas or size of the treatment area has an impact on the price.

Does insurance cover photodynamic therapy?

If you are wondering if your insurance company covers photodynamic therapy, it is best to contact your insurance company and ask them directly. Different insurance companies have varying policies. It is best to consult with your insurance company before coming in for treatment.

Does Medicare cover photodynamic therapy?

If you are asking if Medicare covers PDT, you should contact your individual insurance provider to determine if your health insurance covers the procedure photodynamic therapy procedure.

Who can perform photodynamic therapy?

Only a medical professional, such as board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green in New York City, can perform photodynamic therapy.

Does photodynamic therapy work?

Yes! Photodynamic therapy is a very safe and effective treatment. The procedure works well in destroying tumor cells of various forms of cancer, managing symptoms of certain skin conditions, as well as in treating acne breakouts by reducing sebum production. The FDA has approved photodynamic therapy to treat a variety of lung and esophageal cancers, which means the treatment has gone through a rigorous testing process and has been shown to be very effective.

Is photodynamic therapy worth it?

Yes! Photodynamic therapy works very well in treating several forms of head, neck, lung, and skin cancer, acne vulgaris, and other skin conditions. There is very little recovery time and limited risk of side effects. PDT has been shown to be just as effective as radiation or surgical treatments for cancer cells without the recovery time needed for those treatments. Furthermore, while radiation therapy must be performed in moderation in order to limit damage to the treatment area, photodynamic therapy can be performed multiple times in the same location since there is no risk to the surrounding skin. With high precision, strong results, no downtime, and few side effects, therapy often finds photodynamic therapy to be a safe and highly effective treatment.

What does photodynamic therapy do?

Photodynamic therapy treats cancer cells and other conditions using a combination of light-sensitizing medication and light. Photodynamic therapy may involve blue light, red light, or laser light, depending on the skin condition or type of cancer being treated. Multiple PDT treatment sessions may be required to achieve the final desired results. PDT was first FDA-approved for bladder cancer treatment. Variations of PDT are also used to treat different conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, sun damage, acne, and psoriasis. Compared with some other cancer treatments, PDT is less likely to result in metastasis. PDT also does not damage DNA like some other cancer treatments do. When you consult with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that incorporates the procedures best suited to your unique skin condition, including PDT if necessary.

What should I do after photodynamic therapy?

It is important that after photodynamic therapy, the treatment area is not exposed to sun or UV light for 48 hours. This is because the skin in the treatment area will be more photosensitive in the days following PDT. The treated area may be red, swollen, and dry for several days following photodynamic therapy. A fragrance-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer should be applied to the treatment area in order to promote healing. Depending on your skin condition, a second treatment session may be required to achieve the desired final results. Dr. Green will reassess the treated area several weeks after your first PDT session to determine whether a second is necessary and provide you with all of the pertinent aftercare information required for achieving the best results after treatment.

What is photodynamic therapy for the eyes?

Photodynamic therapy for eyes is used to treat age-related macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that impacts one’s central vision. PDT might be recommended for this disease if injections are ineffective or can’t be used. During PDT for the eyes, Verteporfin, a light-sensitizing medication, is injected into the bloodstream. The medicine collects in the abnormal blood vessels under the macula and is activated by laser light when it is shone into the eye. This causes blood clots to form, which seal the blood vessels, resulting in the slowing down of central vision loss. PDT does not resolve any damage that has already occurred to the eyes. Side effects of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration can include temporary vision changes for several days, although any such side effects tend to resolve independently within 1-2 weeks. Photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration takes about 20 minutes to complete and may be done in an opthalmologists’s office. Most patients require several treatment sessions.

How long does photodynamic therapy take?

An appointment for photodynamic therapy typically takes 90 minutes. A special medication called Levulan must be applied to the entire treatment area and allowed to remain on the skin for one hour. Afterward, the skin is cleaned with water to remove any excess Levulan, and the treatment area is placed under the blue light for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Once the treatment is complete, sun exposure in the treatment area should be avoided for 48 hours. This is because the treated area will be more photosensitive following PDT.

How do I get started with photodynamic therapy today?

If you are concerned with your skin condition due to photodamage, actinic keratoses, skin cancer, acne, sun spots, an inflammatory disease, and overall sun damage, photodynamic therapy may be the solution for you. Unlike some other cancer treatments, photochemotherapy has few mild side effects, and patients are free to resume their usual daily activities immediately after their treatment. Dr. Green will work with you to create a treatment plan that best suits your skin condition and leaves you with a healthy, radiant complexion that lasts.

Dr. Green is an internationally renowned expert in the field of dermatology with over two and a half decades of experience treating some of the world’s most discerning individuals for a myriad of skin conditions, including acne, acne scars, rosacea, age spots, and sun damage, and the best rejuvenation for your skin. If you would like to eliminate the appearance of unwanted signs of aging and sun damage, Dr. Green will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that is best suited to addressing your specific skin concerns. For her dedication to her patients and expertise, Dr. Green is consistently voted as one of New York City’s best dermatologists by Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and Super Doctors. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Green, learn more about various non-invasive skin rejuvenation treatment options, and get started with photodynamic therapy today, call the NYC-based office at 212-535-3088 or contact us online today.

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