Photodynamic Therapy - Candidate

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Am I a good candidate for photodynamic therapy?

The best candidates for PDT may be those with lighter or fair skin with sun damage.

You may not be a good candidate for photodynamic therapy if you have darker skin that tends to turn brown or discolor with certain light or laser treatments. You may also not be a good candidate for PDT if you are very sensitive to light, burn extremely easily, would be unable to stay out of sunlight for the required 24-48 hours, or are taking medications which may make you very sensitive to sunlight or light-based therapies. People with certain medical diseases (such as systemic lupus erythematosus) may not be candidates for PDT because of increased risk of burning from the light exposure.

Your decision on the best treatment choice may depend on different factors such as the location and type of skin lesions, your past treatments, your overall health, and level of comfort. Your physician can help you sort through the different treatments.

Your physician needs to know of any other medical conditions that may affect your procedure or overall wound healing. You would want to make sure to tell your physician beforehand if you have any extreme sensitivity to light-based treatments, take medications which make you very sensitive to light, have had a problem or bad effect from prior PDT, have systemic lupus erythematosus, or suffer from a condition called porphyria.

Your PDT physician needs to know if you have had a history of staph or other skin infections in the recent past. You will also want to advise your physician if you have a history of frequent cold sores (herpes virus infections on your face). In that case, you may be prescribed an antiviral tablet (cold-sore prevention pill) to take before and after your procedure. You may be asked to wash with a special antibiotic soap or wash like chlorhexidine (Hibiclens) the night or morning before your procedure to help reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.

Patients may need to also advise their physician of any drug allergies such as to topical anesthetics or other photosensitizers. Additionally, the surgeon may need to know of any bleeding or bruising tendencies, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, or pregnancy.

Your physician will want to know of any factors that may affect your surgery or wound healing.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Ellen, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 16

I had photodynamic therapy (PDT) on the front of my calves 10 days ago for actinic keratosis (AK). It was the worst pain ever. The nurse cleaned my calves with acetone, applied the Kerastick to them, wrapped them in Saran wrap and ACE bandages and sent me on my way. I came back 3 hours later for the light treatment. I don't know how I made it through the entire treatment. The nurse was spraying water on my legs with one hand and aiming a small electric fan on my legs with her other hand. The pain was excruciating. I thought I would get some relief after the 16 minute 40 second treatment. Boy, was I wrong! I had no idea that I wouldn't be up and functioning in just a few days. Because I had significant sun damage, I had more pain. The AK was constantly itching, and I was at the dermatologist frequently having them frozen. When she suggested Levulan Kerastick with blue light therapy I was ready, or so I thought. However, I have spent most of the last 10 days in my recliner with my legs propped up on pillows. My calves are so swollen. I moisturize three time a day as directed, but when I have to stand up, the weight on my legs causes cracking, bleeding, and burning. I had this treatment to stop the itching AK. Now I'm starting to peel slightly and it itches a lot. My calves are still bright red with a lot of brown crusts. I am so looking forward to the crusts peeling off. I weighed 116 pounds 10 days ago. Because of my lack of movement, I weigh 122 today. It's hard to be active in a recliner. I'm supposed to have my face treated in April. I've had two cancer surgeries on my face, and have several small areas of AK on my nose. I dread going through this again, but would rather suffer through to keep from having more surgeries on my face. Next time I will definitely ask for pain medications. I am supposed to have the back of my calves done too, but I'm not sure I'm up to that. If I had known how painful this procedure was, I would have asked for some serious pain medication or would have taken at least four ibuprofen before the light treatment.

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Comment from: Yatbutterfly, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 21

I had the blue light treatment (photodynamic therapy) on my face for pre-cancerous treatment. The dermatologist made light of the treatment and didn't prepare me for the ill affects I have had. Now that my skin has fully healed, my skin is terribly drawn and damaged. I am so sad.

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