Photodynamic Therapy (PDT or Blue Light Therapy)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How do I prepare for my procedure?

Your personal physician and their medical personnel will likely let you know the preoperative instructions specific for your condition.

For many typical PDT procedures in a physician's office, most patients are advised to come in with a clean, washed area without any lotions or makeup. You may generally eat your regular diet on the day of their procedure and take all of your regular daily medications. Your skin should be fully clean and free of all makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens. Bring a wide-brimmed hat (6 inches), sunglasses, and scarf when appropriate to the appointment. Patients are advised to wear comfortable casual clothes and bring a wide-brimmed hat for facial or scalp treatments. You should bring gloves or a long-sleeve shirt if having hands or forearms treated.

In nearly all cases, patients are usually able to drive after most procedures and do not necessarily need a driver unless they feel uncomfortable or have taken any sedative medications.

Since you will be in the office for generally at least one hour, you may want to bring some personal snacks, drinks, and reading or knitting material. Personal music headsets may also provide relaxation and help pass time during your PDT application, incubation time, and treatment.

Most patients continue all prescribed medications, including aspirin and any blood thinners unless specifically advised otherwise only by the doctor.

While there is no absolute contraindication, smoking is discouraged for at least a few days before and one to two weeks after your procedure. As with any procedure, smoking can slow down wound healing and cause an increased risk of wound infections.

Heavy alcohol use is not advised at least a few days before PDT. Heavy alcohol use can cause more bleeding and thin your blood. An occasional glass of wine or small cocktail may not cause severe bleeding.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/14/2017

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