Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)


Photodynamic Therapy is a clinical procedure that targets and treats pre-skin cancer, acne, and sun damage. The procedure uses a photosensitizing drug to apply light therapy selectively to the affected areas of the skin.

What Does PDT Treat?

There are several skin conditions that PDT can treat and cure. PDT helps clear the skin of actinic keratoses which are premalignant growths in over-exposed areas such as, the face, chest, arms, and hands. Some less common conditions that PDT treats include Bowen’s disease and superficial basal cell carcinoma.

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What To Expect

PDT is performed at our Boulder clinic similar to other facial treatments. Your dermatologist will cleanse your face thoroughly at the beginning of the service. Immediately following a scrub, microdermabrasion, or chemical peel in order to increase penetration. A clear liquid, aminolevulinic acid, is applied to the entire surface of the skin to incubate for a half an hour to three hours, depending on the skin condition and the light that is used. Your physician will determine which light source is best suited for your particular skin condition. Light sources can be a blue light, red light, intense pulsed light, or pulsed dye laser. The only discomfort that patients will typically experience is a burning sensation, which will be lessened by fans or cool air.

Post-treatment, the patient’s skin will be extremely light sensitive for the next 48 hours while the medication is metabolized. Patients must keep the treated area protected during the 48 hour period and should avoid the outdoors as much as possible. A thick and high SPF sunblock with zinc is best if patients need to be outdoors. Peeling and redness are likely to occur for a week to two weeks after the treatment.


In most cases, there are no complications or serious side effects. The most common complaint that patients have after a PDT treatment is the redness and peeling that occurs. In the event that a severe reaction occurs, it is likely because the patient had a larger number of pre-cancer spots where the drug was absorbed more than usual. If a patient is experiencing a reaction that is outside of these conditions, contact us as soon as possible to discuss.

Photodynamic Therapy is a highly effective treatment that K2 Dermatology Clinic is proud to offer Boulder residents. Contact our clinic today to schedule a consultation.