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Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a two-step medical procedure that uses special drugs and light energy to kill cancer cells.

What Does Photodynamic Therapy Do?

The drugs (commonly referred to as photosensitizing agents) are either injected into the vein or applied to the skin. This is followed by the area being exposed to a certain kind of light that “activates” the drugs.


The drug is slowly absorbed by the cancel cell over a certain amount of time. The combination of the drug and light causes a reaction that results in the formulation of a special type of oxygen molecule to destroy the cells.

In addition to that, PDT may help combat cancer by targeting the blood vessels that supply the cancer cells with nutrients and destroying them. This can alert the immune system to attack cancer cells.

The drug-to-light interval is the period between the supply of the drugs and the application of light energy. Depending on the type of drug being used, this period can last anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of days.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Photodynamic Therapy?

Recovery from PTF may vary slightly from person to person. However, most people do not experience any major side effects following the surgery. In fact, it is likely that you’ll feel fully recovered the next morning after the treatment.

Some people may experience minor side effects, such as the treated area feeling itchy, sore, or raw. The photosensitizing agent may make your skin slightly sensitive for a temporary period. This can lead to swelling, redness, blisters, rashes, or sunburn. It is best to keep the treated area away from sunlight or any direct source of light for a couple of days. If you need to go out, make sure to cover the treated area with dark clothing.

In almost all cases, people are fully recovered within 7 days of the treatment. If you notice any side effects or sensitivity after this period, inform your healthcare provider immediately.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Photodynamic Therapy?

Various studies have proven that photodynamic therapy is as effective as radiation therapy or surgery for the treatment of certain cancers and pre-cancers. Some of the main advantages of using PTD include:

  • No long-term side effects (if used properly)
  • It is a short procedure are does not require the patient to get admitted to the hospital.
  • Since it is targeted therapy, it can be very precise.
  • It doesn’t leave any scars.
  • It doesn’t require any surgery, making it less invasive to the body.
  • It can be repeated multiple times as required without getting toxic, unlike radiation which can only be applied a limited number of times.
  • It is more feasible than other types of cancer treatments.

However, just like most treatments, photodynamic therapy also has its limits. Some of the disadvantages of this cancer treatment include:

  • It can only treat areas where the light source can reach. This usually means only the areas right below the skin or the linings of the organs can be treated. Cancers that have grown deeply into the skin or large cancers, in general, cannot be treated with PDT.
  • In some cases, the light used during the procedure can leave the patient very sensitive to light for some time. This can be treated with special precautions and drug administration.
  • People with certain blood diseases cannot get this treatment.

What is Photodynamic Therapy for Face?

While photodynamic therapy is generally used for cancer treatment, it is also gaining popularity in treating acne and uneven skin. Patients who aren't seeing any difference in their acne with other oral or topical treatments can opt for photodynamic therapy.

In addition to treating acne, PDT can also treat issues such as sun-damaged skin, skin infections, and precancerous cells.

What Devices Are Used With Photodynamic Therapy?

While most dermatologists and oncologists have proper devices for the procedure, PDT doesn't actually require any special devices. Almost any laser emitting device with an adequate wavelength of light to activate the drug can be used for this photodynamic therapy.

What is The Cost of Photodynamic Therapy?

Without taking a look at all the facts, it can be difficult to determine how much photodynamic therapy would cost to a particular patient. The type of drugs and light used, the issue that is being treated, as well as the place you are getting your treatment from all factor into determining the cost.

A single treatment can cost anywhere from $100 to $4,000. Therefore, it is recommended to discuss it with your healthcare provider before making a budget.

If you are thinking about opting for photodynamic therapy, visit Suncoast Skin Solutions today.

Still Have Questions?

Schedule An Appointment Online Now to meet with one of our providers. If you need to speak by phone please call us at 1-844-SUNDERM.