40 Year Old on Her Ninth Day After - Strong Reaction! - Colorado, CO

I wanted to write this to let people know what...

I wanted to write this to let people know what it's like when you have a really strong reaction to this - probably the only mistake my doctors made was not telling me the absolute extreames - which apparently, happen when you've had alot of sun damage. Hang in there! This procedure is way worth it! Don't get scared!

Just a bit of a back ground on what I've done to my face over the years - grew up in El Paso, TX (dry desert), where I was a swimmer - never used sun screen. Now live in Colorado and am pretty active outside (skiing, swimming, hiking, golfing, etc.). I work on the ocean. Lots of extreams.

I decided to use Photodynamic Therapy with Levulin as a result of seeing lots of age spots sprouting up, uneven skin, just aging faster then I thought I would. When I went to the dermatologist office, they said alot of what was going on with my face was precancerous - and this was a good option for me (my insurance covered part of it, the $450 was what I opted for, for the procedure over and above for my whole face, and not just the spots)

Went in, they cleaned my face with acetone - not pleasant but not bad. Put the Levulin on for about two hours. More cleaning my face with acetone. Used pulsed light in predesignated spots as well as concentrated places where the spots were the worst. Under the blue light for about 12 mins. Nothing too painful - the pulsed laser felt a bit like a snap on your face - the blue light got a big hot, and felt a bit like my face was being lightly sand blasted.

First day - my face was ALARMINLY red. Did what the doctors told me and washed my face with a gentle cleanser and used some pretty gentle moisturizor. Seriously, my face was maroon colored, very scary looking. Medium amount of swelling.

Second day = still ALARMINGLY red, swollen, and all kinds of nasty, dark spots coming to the surface. My face was a little sore and itchy.

Third day - tight, tight skin, still very red, itchy, very uncomfortable. Here I used what amounts to the Hydropore ointment and some burgemont oil. The only thing that gave me real relief from being just real uncomfortable was this really nice spring water the doctor's office gave me - I kept my face wet almost constantly after a while.

Fourth day - pealing in earnest. Probably took four showers just sloughing the skin off (as that was instant relief). Tried all kinds of greasy ointments and, really, the only relief for me was spraying that spring water on my face constantly. (don't force the skin to come off!)

Fifth day - Most of old skin had peeled off - I got all happy, seeing some pretty good results (but skin was still REALLY red) - until All the new skin broke out in to hundreds of realy small, nasty, white heads. This is where I freaked out a little and called my doctor, who told me to get in to the office the next day just in case.

Sixth day - white heads still there, but my skin wasn't as sore, put on heavy zink based sun screen before driving to the doctor's office and everything kind of settled down and started pealing again. Doctor's reassured me that I didn't have an infection - they were very reassuring and told me that I probably had a whole lot of photo-damage and was throwing off alot of bad stuff (this sounds patronizing - it really wasn't - it makes alot of sense. Levulin attaches to damaged cells, and then is activated - the stronger the reaction, the more nasty stuff your skin probably needed to get rid of with this procedure.)

Seventh day - continued improvement, skin not so red, still pealing pealing pealing. After ANOTHER layer pealed off, still had more white heads show up, but not anywhere near as many as the first time. Still using some pretty heavy moisturizer, but no ointment.

Same the Eighth day and today - a WHOLE LOT of improvement. Still have a few white heads. I am probably on my fifth skin pealing episode on my cheeks, and am back to my normal skin regiment but with really good sun screen. Face looks lightly sunburned now.

The skin that is emerging is extraordinary. Truely, much better results then I dreamed of. A bit of repair on my crow's feet and under my eyes, as well. I've never had skin look this beautiful, not even when I was 18. Now, I still have some healing to do, and I think I'm still going to peal for a couple more days.

STAY OUT OF THE SUN THAT FIRST WEEK (7 days)! Stay away from the windows, even if the blinds are down, stay away from bright lights. It will hurt anyway if you don't. I will be wearing some heavy duty sun screen all day long, no matter where I am, for a while, and never go out in to the sun again with out it. Don't pick at your face if you aren't in the shower - don't force that skin off your face until it's ready to come off. Don't worry about the white heads, if they show up - that just more bad stuff being thrown off your skin.

Don't worry! If you are freaked out (I definitely was), call your doctors/cosmetic therapists. If they won't talk to you, find some where/some one else and call them! It's going to clear up. I had a pretty dark spot just under my left nostral - not pretty - and it's gone - all gone, along with alot of others. HUGE improvement and I'm not even finished healing.

Hope this helps

Name not provided

This place went out of their way to make sure I had good moisturizers, face products/etc. when I left. They were very reassuring when I was a bit scared. There are doctors as well as cosmetic therapists, and everyone in that office is very well informed. They did give me alot of information on this procedure, and how to care for it while I was healing - the only critisism I had was what happens in all cases. Please ask your doctors/therapist for the worst case scenario, and plan for it.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
Was this review helpful? 7 others found this helpful

Comments (13)

Sort by

I had this same procedure this past Monday and was VERY concerned as my reaction was WAY stronger to the treatment than the photos I saw in the MD office as well as what I read in the information I was given. I also have had a LOT of redness, swelling, tight, uncomfortable feeling (sometimes outright pain/stinging) but feel better now having read the above post. I was concerned maybe my Derm. had screwed up! Two treatments are recommended (6 wks apart) but for me, the down time and discomfort isn't worth it so I won't be going back for the 2nd treatment. I am glad I chose to do this procedure before I started my new job - there is no way I would've been able to work the first few days. Thank you for sharing your experience - it definitely helped ease my concerns.
  • Reply
Hi. Thanks to everyone for sharing. I wonder if anyone else has had this reaction. The first time I had PDT therapy my skin was back to normal in 5 days with little or no adverse reaction. The seond time 4 days ago was much different. Severe redness for 2 days. Now on day 4 the right side of my face is completely back to normal complextion with no redness. But my chin and left side of my face is still very red. Its also kind of lotchy red as some areas the complextion looks normal. Overall it looks horrible. Its very dry and I keep applying vasoline and aquafor. To anyones knowledge is this a normal recation? I'm starting to panic!
  • Reply
Same here though this is day 5 for me of my first treatment. I will not go back for the 2nd one.
  • Reply
OK, girls...you all left me "hanging" here! I am to have this done 4-9...lots of aks and numerous squamos already removed. I just had major surgery done (bl & tt) and really do not want to go through a p eriod of hiding and pain again! Not happy here! How did it all turn out for you??
  • Reply
I am super happy with the results. I have to have it done again but I am going to wait till next fall.
I will tell you that it really was a total of 9 days before I felt like I could go out without all the skin flaking off. I went a little stir crazy and tried to go out on day 5 but it wasn't worth the reaction I got from people looking.
I only took pain medication for two days and that was more so I could sleep through the night.
If you do exactly what the nurse and Doctor tell you to do... you will be absolutely fine.
Good luck and you will be fine ; )
  • Reply
No pain med was given by my Derm. Was told Aleve or similar would be enough..the first 2 days it was definitely NOT enough - I have a high tolerance for pain so I was surprised. I just hung in there with nothing but using the creams & taking it easy. This Phototherapy is not the walk-in-the-park it's presented to be - at least not in my case
  • Reply
WOW! The post from Christine040 just saved me! I just had the PDT done yesterday at my dermatology office. Everything that was written by Christine040 was pretty identical to my treatment. The difference for me is that today, my second day, I woke up with all the little white caps all over my face. I have never had acne (that's what it looks like)and I freaked. I started to cry and thought OMG! My doctor did call to check in with me so I asked about the white caps... I was told that it was the medication that was applied and it was doing it's job. I was also offered an appointment to come in if I wanted too. I was also told that if you have a puss or amber color seeping from the skin that I should come in right away because that would be a sign of an infection. So, I looked in the mirror and I just have a ton of white bumps... some like the size of a poppyseed and some bigger. My face is extremely red and I am hoping to see what day three will bring... I would recommend that if you are going to do the PDT it would be could to do it in the beginning of the week. That way you still have a Doctor or assistant that will be available to see you. You might just want to take the whole week off if you can. I can say I have cried because it just looks so bad...
  • Reply

thanks so much for sharing schedule of what to expect. My skin dr gave me phamphlet & told me to think about it. I have actinic keratosis & have had skin cancers removed with freezing, mild acid peels & cutting. I have several bumps on scalp in hair in addition to many other areas. I think I will ask doctor for more input on this procedure. My scalp spots itch & burn as it is so why not have this done? If only I could be sure that I wouldn't develope melanoma it would be well worth it.

  • Reply

I had the PDT procedure done 8/22/11. Let's just say that I was told I had a "good" reaction. Wore a ponytail or up the whole time because of all the stuff on my face.
* First night very uncomfortable, used the spray bottle to help with the burn (along with all the creams they give you).
* Second day - dark purple (not red) and swollen. That's when I went back to the DR. and he said I had a "good" reaction.
* Third day - Still very purple
* Fourth day - skin felt tighter, red
* Fifth day - red/brown
* Six day - brown tight skin, spot flaking, spot peeling
* Seventh day - peeling. just wash face gently. do not scrub.
* Eight day - 1/2 peeled off..lovely - left with pimply looking red skin on forhead...very bumpy. Went to DR. said it was normal. Ichy! Given light Lotoid for twice a day on itch areas
* Nine day - all brown dead skin came off. Medium red and still bumpy/pimply (but no white head)

I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there. I have to say it doesn't look good, and "the process" will be worse looking than I think you will imagine. Just keep that in mind. Good luck!

  • Reply
Thank you for the information. I am on day 3 and have been going through the same things and now know that it is normal. Have not started to peel but face is swollen and very red...not worried now as I see that is normal. Looking forwarded to the good part.
  • Reply
So helpful! On day 4 now and was a little freaked out!
  • Reply
Thank you for writing this post as im about to have PDT next week , and know that most cosmetic procedure recoveries are understated.... now i know what to look out for ..Kind Regards
  • Reply

HI Christine,

Welcome to the community. Thank you for the really, really detailed review. This should help a lot of community members, especially the part about not freaking out. That's pretty important for members getting laser to know. Do you have pictures to share, they would be useful to the community and we would love to see them.

Thanks so much for the review,

-Britt

  • Reply