Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT or Blue Light Treatment) is a treatment used to destroy actinic keratoses (AKs). AKs are pre-cancerous lesions occurring usually on sun exposed skin. They are rough in texture and can range in color from pink to tan to brown. AKs have the potential to progress to squamous cell carcinoma, which is a common type of skin cancer. Treatment of AKs is one way to prevent the development of AKs into skin cancers.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for actinic keratoses (AKs) has advantages over other therapies. Freezing individual lesions with liquid nitrogen is a common way for dermatologists to treat AKs. Often on severely sun damaged skin there are multiple, sub-clinical AKs that are not apparent to the naked eye. PDT treats all of the skin in an area (such as the face or scalp), and destroys obvious as well as the just beginning AKs which can’t be seen yet. Therefore, this is a more comprehensive and complete treatment for pre-cancerous lesions.

Other methods used to treat the entire skin in an area are topical creams, such as fluorouracil (i.e. Effudex®) or imiquimod (i.e. Aldara® or Zyclara®). The treatment period with these creams is anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks long with development of crusting and inflammation which can sometimes be severe. The advantage of treating with PDT is it’s an in-office procedure with a post-inflammation period of only about a week. Usually the inflammation is equivalent to a mild or moderate sunburn.

If you would like to know more about this procedure, please visit If you would like to see if you are a candidate for this treatment, please schedule an appointment with our office for a consultation. Most insurance companies will cover this treatment when pre-approved.