What is Levulan PDT?
Levulan PDT is a form of photodynamic therapy (PDT) that we use to treat actinic keratosis (precancer) and basal cell carcinoma (cancer). Photodynamic therapy uses a light-sensitizing drug and a special light to treat abnormal cells.* Levulan PDT is extremely useful for the treatment of multiple lesions on the scalp and face.* PDT is non-invasive and causes little to no scarring. Levulan is the brand name for the type medication (aminolevulinic acid) that is used during the procedure.
How does Levulan photodynamic therapy work?
The first step of this treatment involves cleaning the skin to remove natural oils, then the application of medication. We ask that patients avoid lotions or make-up prior to treatment. In some cases, we may also scrape off the crust or scales of the lesions with a curette (a long, thin instrument with a hoop at one end). We will then apply the light-sensitizing, Levulan medication to the lesion(s). The medication is allowed to sit and become absorbed by the skin, anywhere from 1-2 hours, to overnight, depending upon your provider’s recommendations. During step two, the lesion(s) is/are exposed to blue light for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Blue light therapy causes the medication to react with oxygen, resulting in the reduction of abnormal cells. During your treatment, your eyes will be shielded with comfortable see-through protective goggles.*
What can I expect during treatments?
We can perform treatments from our offices in Dover & Newington, New Hampshire and Peabody, Massachusetts. Patients MUST avoid sunlight and bright indoor lighting for 48 hours. Sunscreen will not protect the treated skin, so remember to cover up your skin. You may feel pain, stinging or burning during the light portion. These sensations can last for several hours or a couple of days after the treatment. Patients are asked to bring a hat that will cover areas to be treated on face, ears, scalp and/or neck.
What can I expect from the results?
While Levulan PDT treatments are very effective, there is a chance that you will need to continue to need periodic treatments for actinic keratoses, depending on your skin. Some skin actinic keratoses are more aggressive than others and will need additional treatments and closer follow-ups. Sun-damaged skin frequently needs follow-up and further treatments. Other procedures may be needed to fully treat your lesions. We will schedule follow-up appointments with you for the first few years after your photodynamic therapy, usually every 4-6 months. If you have a history of skin cancer, annual skin checks are a great way to stay ahead of melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.
Schedule a consultation in Seacoast, NH or North Shore, MA
To find out of Levulan photodynamic therapy can help you, schedule a consultation at Dermatology & Skin Health. We have four locations: Dover, Newington or Londonderry, New Hampshire or Peabody, Massachusetts, allowing us to serve both the Seacoast region and the North Shore. To get started, fill out the request form on our site or call us at (603) 742-5556 (Dover & Newington), (978) 525-0100 (Peabody), (603) 965-3551 (Londonderry), (603) 742-5556 (Bedford).