Photodynamic Therapy PDT. Will 2 or 3 Sessions Be Effective?

I'm a bit confused about PDT. What I don't understand is how deep UVB/A damage goes into the skin and if PDT is capable of dealing with all these previously damaged cells within in a few sessions? Will two or three sessions of PDT (one hour with cream and time under a red light) kill all sun damaged cells that presently exist on my face? If I was never to see the sun again, would I not need any more PDT? Or will old damaged cells come to the surface anyway and need to be treated at a later date?

Doctor Answers 4

PDT Maintenance May Be Required

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UVA and UVB penetrate very superficially. Most light sources that are used in PDT can penetrate deeper. Unfortunately 1 or 3 treatments with PDT can't reverse all the sun exposure and damage you already have.  My patients generally return for maintenance treatments every 3-5 years.

San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

Photodynamic therapy to treat sun damage

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PDT is a great treatment for collections of sun damaged cells called actinic keratoses because it can treat obvious ones, and ones that are lurking in the background but are not yet visible.  Three sessions would probably treat a great many of those background lesions, but it would be unlikely to completely treat them all.

Lawrence Osman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon

Number of photodynamic therapy sessions required

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It is unclear how much sun damage you have and so difficult to determine how many photodynamic therapy (PDT) sessions you will need. It is best to see a skin expert, a dermatologist, for a proper assessment. I find that 3 sessions can give terrific results, but that maintenance therapy may be required (e.g. once every year or two).

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) with Levulan is effective for reversing sundamaged skin, but not for life

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PDT, as well as laser resurfacing, and photofacials are all good treatments for reversing sun damaged skin.  However, you can't completely undo the problems that the sun has caused with 3 treatments of PDT, or with any treatment.  After about 3 treatments of PDT, you probably will have gotten the most you are going to get at that point from that series of treatments.  Once a year tune ups are a good idea too.  Unless you stay locked in a dark closet, you will be exposed to the sun and hence, more sun damage will occur.  Also, prior exposure to the sun over the years will show up again too.  Treatment will temporize and reverse some damage, but not eliminate it. PDT is also a great treatment for acne, and pre cancerous lesions of the skin.

Steven F. Weiner, MD
Panama City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.