Unsure About the Efficacy of the Procedure - San Diego, CA

I've had a lot of pre-cancers burned off my face...

I've had a lot of pre-cancers burned off my face and chest, and my skin is mottled from biopsies. Several years ago I had a squamous cell cancer removed from my nose by means of mohs surgery. I've still got the stitches from a recent excision from basal cell cancer on two areas on my leg. I decided to try photodynamic therapy because I'm hoping to reduce the possibility that I'll have more serious surgeries. Naturally, I was also hoping for some beautifying effects.

The process was less painful and difficult than anticipated. Here's my journal from that day.

1:45: Face gently washed with Dial soap, then alcohol, then acetone. The nurse explained each step (“this is Dial…the alcohol smells strong…it’s getting close to your nose…the acetone will feel very cold…”). The Levulon didn’t smell or feel like anything in particular. It stayed on for an hour, during which I lounged on the table in the office and read a good homicide thriller by Crais. (Many thanks to those who reminded me to bring a book). I had worn a sundress because I was afraid of being hot during the baking portion. I hadn’t thought about this hour, during which I was quite chilly.

3:00 The Levulon was wiped off and I went to the bathroom (I was a little nervous about the upcoming light therapy). The nurse put cotton pads and goggles on me and told me that she would come to check on me. I could let her know if it became intolerable. (This comment did not comfort me.) After I asked several more questions about escaping if it was too “uncomfortable,” she assured me that I could slide out from under the machine that was placed just over my face if I needed to. That helped the claustrophobia.

3:30 p.m. It actually wasn’t so bad. It did feel a little like rubber bands snapping, and like roasting flesh, but it didn’t hurt all that much. Music helped to distract (bring ipod!). It lasted 16 minutes, the light went off, and I was done. It never was even painful, much less intolerable.

4 p.m. The nurse put powerful sunscreen on me. I asked repeatedly if it was OK for me to be outside; she said that as long as I had sunscreen on, and kept reapplying every 45 minutes or so, I was fine. That didn’t sound like anything I’d read, but I stopped asking, figuring that I could just stay inside with sunscreen on. No sense taking chances.

9 p.m. I’d asked my daughters to “babysit” me, so they expected me to look and feel terrible. I really looked fine and just felt slightly hot.
All but one daughter abandoned me because clearly I was not in need.
I put Aquaphor on because I read that I should. My skin stung as though I’d had a bad sunburn during the day, and I’m tired. It’s just like a sunburn, actually. This is a familiar feeling for me.

I stayed inside for the next few days. I'll post some photos to show how lovely I looked. It could be covered with makeup pretty easily. No one really commented when I emerged from my house on the third day.

(I'm trying to figure out a simple way to add a black bar to the photo. I feel silly for not knowing. I'll post this anyway, and add photos later. Better something than nothing, right?)

Photos from days 1, 2, and 3 (at last)

It's been about six months since my face was done. For the first time in a long time, I haven't had anything burnt or surgically removed from my face. Maybe this helped!

I also had my chest treated. The after effects weren't very pronounced, and my skin looks almost worse than before. Maybe I should request a longer period of time under the light?

I think my doctor is conservative, which is fine. I'm ready for another attempt.
Encinitas Dermatologist

Dr. Gilchrist is great. She looks about 12, and is very sweet. I LOVE not feeling condemned for my years of surfing and general abuse of my skin. She seems to know what she's talking about, better yet. One never knows what lurks under the surface of the skin, so that's why I'm not sure about whether it was effective. The nurse actually did this procedure, and I am not as excited about her as about the doctor. The stars are for the doctor in general.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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