Patient Comments: Photodynamic Therapy - Candidate

For what condition did you have photodynamic therapy?

Comment from: Capid, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 21

I can usually tolerate pain pretty well, however, I was surprised how painful the PDT treatment turned out to be. It's like getting a bad sun or acid burn and not being able to move away from it if you want to finish the treatment. I had tears in my eyes! Though they said this was not a typical reaction, I was unprepared. Afterwards it was about like a bad sunburn feeling and healed about as easily. My advice - if you have to get this done, take a pain med before the light hits!

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Comment from: SL, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 09

I have had PDT treatment 2 times in the last 6 months for AK's. It is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. I am not sure where this website is getting their information but I read somewhere else the light treatment is considered to have a pain level of 8 and 3% of all individuals cannot continue the 16 min 40 sec treatment. I pushed through and did it but also was taking Dr. prescribed pain meds and continued so for 2 days after. It is well worth the pain, as my skin looks great and it is very smooth. Just prepare for the pain.

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Comment from: Garry, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

I had PDT treatment last week for Actinic Karatoses on both arms after a sixteen hour incubation period. The prescribed time under the lights was sixteen minutes and forty seconds. I made it to six minutes when it was totally unbearable and had to stop. The next two days were terrible, the area around my elbows and forearms swelled and the burning was a lot more than the worst sunburn you could imagine. On the fourth day, the burning subsided but the swelling is still there and now blistering and weeping are taking place. This has been a horrible experience and had I known it would be this bad I never would have done it. My arms feel and look like they were dipped into a deep fat fryer. PDT, never again for me.

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Comment from: Bret Z, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

I have extensive pre-cancer damage: as well as, have had actual skin cancers removed and I totally believe in the PDT. It is somewhat intense but it only lasts 16 minutes with the first five to six minutes being difficult. If you can't find a relaxed state try to control your breathing which slows down internal excitement. I am currently going through three treatments spread three to four weeks apart and am having my arms, chest, face and back treated. Try that with other options. If they would hire me I would spread the word to all dermatologists and skin specialists. I use the specialty dermatology department from the University of Utah. I have spent my entire life in the sun and years back sun screen was baby oil- so dumb.

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Comment from: RBD, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 05

Had the photodynamic therapy 48 hours ago for facial actinic keratosis. The light (red) therapy itself was extremely painful, picture putting your face in a heated oven for 20 minutes. The only thing that made it bearable was the fact I was provided with a hose which gave off cool air. I was able to constantly rotate cool air on the treated areas. The nurse also stayed and engaged in small talk, obviously trying to get my mind off the intense pain. I am very red, as in a bad sunburn. Very blotchy also, and now 48 hours later finally feeling skin tightness. Hope it was worth it down the line.

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Comment from: SP, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 05

I agree that this is a very painful procedure. I spent 15 minutes under the light, and it was probably the worst 15 minutes of my life so far in terms of pain level. If I ever did this again, I would definitely request Valium or something like that prior to the procedure. I experienced extremely red skin on my face, and as of day 5 post treatment, almost all of my skin has peeled off. Very unpleasant experience (but hopefully worth it).

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Comment from: burned to a crisp, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 05

If you have a lot of sun damage on your face, lots of AK (actinic keratosis), be prepared for a very painful photodynamic therapy (PDT) experience, with the pain lasting way longer than the doctors typically predict. I had the procedure nearly 4 days ago for actinic keratosis and the swelling and tingling/stinging are still bad. I have a very high tolerance for pain, I"m an athlete. Yet I had to beg my doctor for pain medications to deal with the anxiety and trauma of being in severe pain for this long. My advice is, get pain medications up front and don"t take no for an answer! Also, don"t do this procedure unless you feel all other options have been exhausted.

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