What is Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy and how does it improve acne?
This is a wonderful treatment for cystic acne; combining a topical, light enhancing agent and our elōs Aurora™ laser. After 3 monthly treatments, results are comparable to those of Accutane, leading to long term acne remission. Your oil glands will shrink, your pore size will decrease, and your cysts will disappear. Facial redness will be minimized by this treatment, and acne scars will also diminish as collagen and loose skin are tightened. (See our page on Photodynamic Therapy for the treatment of Sun Damage for additional information on cosmetic benefits of this treatment for older skin.)
How does Dr. Davis perform Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy for Acne?
The first step is to remove the top layer of your skin with traditional Microdermabrasion. Next, a light enhancing chemical, 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), is applied to make this treatment effective. The ALA is painted and left on your skin for at least 30 minutes to allow absorption. With this step, there should only be tingling and you should be comfortable. During this time you can enjoy reading some magazines, doing work, or even taking a nap. The next step is sitting with anesthetic cream (available for purchase at our office), which most people opt for prior to the laser treatment itself. Total treatment time generally runs 2 to 2 ½ hours. We need to start this procedure either early in the morning, or early in the afternoon and this time needs to be reserved in advance.
How many Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy sessions will I need for acne treatment?
Generally 3 monthly treatments are needed. However, some people see dramatic results with just one or two and do not need to continue with additional visits.
What are the limitations of Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy treatments for Acne?
Photodynamic therapy should not be used on dark skin since pigmentation can be disrupted. But we can successfully treat lighter skinned individuals. As with any laser procedure, we do not recommend having this treatment if you are pregnant. Although some people prefer to schedule these sessions to avoid sunny summer months, we perform photodynamic therapy all year long. When treating men, we avoid the hair bearing areas (chin, cheeks and upper lip) to avoid causing hair removal. We would not want to disrupt the ability of a man to grow a full beard or mustache at a later date.
Will there be any pain from my Photodynamic Therapy treatment with Dr. Davis?
The discomfort of the procedure has been compared to the snap of a rubber band against the skin. Most people can tolerate a Photodynamic Therapy treatment with just contact cooling from our laser handpiece and the separate Syner-cool air blower. However, you can opt to sit with anesthetic cream for 30 minutes prior to your procedure for maximum comfort. You would purchase the jar of anesthetic cream in our office and we would write your name on the label for use on that day and on future treatments.
What should I avoid before my Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy treatment with Dr. Davis?
Before your Photodynamic Therapy appointment, avoid the following:
Anti-oxidant rich citrus fruits and extracts (especially from lemons and limes) make skin more sensitive to light and should be avoided three days before any light therapy.
Topical antioxidants used for anti-aging. These include products with vitamin C, coffeeberry, green tea, idebenone, etc. During the week before treatment, it is best to use only plain moisturizers such as Cerave or Cetaphil.
Retinoids (derived from vitamin A) such as Retin-A, Renova, Differin, and anti-aging products with retinol (Afirm, Replenix, etc.)
What can I expect after my Photodynamic (Laser) Therapy treatment with Dr. Davis?
There is some down time with this procedure. You must stay out of the sun for at least 72 hours after your treatment, as the ALA is still active in your skin and you can sunburn more easily. To shadow your face you must bring a wide- brimmed hat with you to the office on the day of your procedure. Strong sun block (without antioxidants) must be used after the treatment. Your face will initially become redder, giving you the appearance of a sunburn. Darker spots and precancerous lesions may appear darker and then crumble and peel off. You may wear makeup to cover this up or use a water- mister to spray on the skin to lessen dryness. Plain Vaseline can also be used and does not promote acne.