Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic Therapy is a 2 step treatment for the targeted destruction of abnormal cells from acne, actinic keratosis and superficial skin cancer.

Photodynamic Therapy for Acne is used by Dr. Sikorski to treat mild to moderate cystic acne. A relatively new cosmetic dermatological procedure, Photodynamic Therapy (often referred to as PDT), combines light and a special light-activated solution that targets and destroys acne activity.

Photodynamic Acne Treatment (PDT) is a process in which Levulan (a photosensitizing agent) is applied to the skin where is absorbed by acne and actinic keratosis cells.

The Levulan solution gets activated by a specific wavelength of light. This solution has been used for the treatment of various skin conditions and is the chosen topical agent for PDT due to its effectiveness.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Collage PDT Acne Treatment provides a viable alternative to all types of acne treatment without having negative systemic effects. PDT Pilot Study for effectiveness on acne.

Historically the available treatment option for resistant and cystic acne was Accutane. However, with Accutane there are many systemic* side effects including birth defects, liver abnormalities and other potential problems. The use of Accutane is highly regulated. Patients who choose the treatment must follow rigorous monitoring under a government set of regulations called I Pledge.

Dr. Sikorski will prescribe Accutane or oral retinoic acid in generic RX in special cases with  patients who understand and are willing to comply with the entire process of the program and required intermittent testing. *Systemic treatments are any medications that are taken orally, injected or infused that affect the entire body system.

Photodynamic Acne Treatment Procedure

Photodynamic Acne Treatment Procedure uses a painless solution called Levulan and applies it to your skin for 15-60 minutes. The solution is then activated by specific wavelength of light that is determined by Dr. Sikorski to be effective for you specific skin conditions. This takes about 8-10 minutes.

The Levulan solution is absorbed by active acne cells. The solution makes these cells more sensitive to the process. This combined interaction of the wavelength of light and the Levulan solution is what gives the name to the term “photodynamic therapy.”

When the light is on and interacts with the solution, the Levulan solution creates a reaction in which acne cells are destroyed or disabled. This causes gland activity to be reduced to a more normal level.

The Levulan solution also targets those small (1-3mm) benign bumps under your skin which are called sebaceous hyperplasia and the papules of acne rosacea.

It is important that prior to the Acne Photodynamic Therapy treatment program, all blackheads and acne pustules are medically extracted. These extractions will improve the condition of your skin because they will clean the pores of hardened sebum and infected debris. Often your treatment will be immediately preceded by microdermabrasion to enhance the uptake of the Levulan in the skin cells.

PDT reduces skin oiliness and minimizes the appearance of pore size. After a Photodynamic Acne Treatment the texture of your skin will improve.

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Advantages of PDT for Acne

  • Rapid treatment of acne lesions all over the face
  • No scarring
  • No surgical excisions
  • No systemic side effects

The skin appears refreshed and younger following these treatments. We advise 2-3 treatments at 2 to 3 week intervals to obtain optimal results.

Photoderm Before and After Patient B


Expected Side Effects

The normal and expected side effects of Photodynamic treatment (PDT) are skin redness and some skin peeling (and crusting if you have superficial skin cancers) for several days after the treatment. Usually, the first 1-2 days are the worst.

Important! You must remain indoors the day following your treatment to avoid sun exposure, as you are photosensitive for about 48 hours after PDT. Sunscreen will not protect your skin from further reaction during this time. You may prefer to have your treatment at the end of the day to avoid light exposure.

What are the other potential side effects?

The most common side effects include scaling/crusting, hypo/hyper-pigmentation, itching, stinging, and/or burning, erythema (redness) and edema (swelling). These side effects are temporary and can easily be managed with simple application of vinegar water or a topical cream provided by Dr. Sikorski.

Other Acne Treatments

  • Blu Light treatment for mild acne
  • Accutane for cystic or difficult to treat acne
  • Acne chemical peels such as beta peels
  • Acne topical products
  • Prescription topical and oral medications
  • Acne Scarring

Actinic Keratoses and Superficial Skin Cancer

Photodynamic Therapy is a very effective method in treating Actinic Keratosis. The destruction and removal of actinic keratosis lesions and superficial skin cancers can be accomplished in one or several sessions.

Dr. Sikorski offers this option in addition to her signature AK Peel which utilizes TCA (tricholoroacetic acid) in the destruction of AK lesions – Tricholoraecetic acid is one of the more aggressive chemical peeling agents and is used for a number of skin problems. Other options are available depending upon the number of AK or cancerous lesions and their location on the body.

PDT works quickly in creating the action of abnormal tissue destruction and is identical to the procedures explained above with similar healing and side effects.

Advantages of PDT for treating AKs

  • Well-tolerated by most skin types
  • Quickly and simply performed in Dr. Sikorski’s office
  • Nonsurgical
  • Reduces risks of scarring

Learn more about Actinic Keratosis and all the various treatments available at Natural Image OC. 


Dr. Sikorski Headshot Your consultation visit

You’ll enjoy a relaxing visit to our office where you can ask questions, meet our staff, take a tour of our office and surgical suite and view additional photo results of our patients.

Your consultation assessment is with Dr. Sikorski, not an impersonal or commissioned sales person. Fees and procedure preparations are discussed with our patient coordinator, who will detail the surgical experience with you.

We look forward to meeting with you and helping you find the simplest solution to achieve the goals you desire. Contact Dr. Sikorski for a Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT) consultation. Call or use our online form.