The procedure combines light and a special light-activated topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan. Levulan is a 20% solution of Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA). ALA is a "natural" product found in all humans throughout the body. It is a precursor for hemoglobin synthesis which means you wouldn't be able to make red blood cells to carry oxygen without ALA in your body.
The Levulan, which is a clear painless solution, is applied to your skin and left on for 15-60 minutes. The Levulan is absorbed by active cells like acne sebaceous gland, making the targeted acne cells more sensitive to the light. This combined interaction of the solution and the light is what gives rise to the term "photodynamic therapy."
The treatment, also known as "ALA/PDT treatment" removes sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called actinic keratoses (precancerous growths that develop from prolonged, cumulative sun damage over the course of your lifetime). Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation are also improved because of the positive effect of Levulan and the light treatment. ALA/PDT treatments also have the ability to minimize pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating stubborn acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, and improve the appearance of some acne scars.
Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan is indicated for:
Following ALA/PDT, the treated areas can appear red with some peeling for 2-7 days. Some patients have an exuberant response to PDT, and experience marked redness of their skin. Temporary swelling of the lips and around your eyes can occur for a few days. Darker pigmented patches called liver spots can become temporarily darker and then peel off leaving normal skin. (This usually occurs over seven to ten days.)
Patients with severe sun damaged skin manifested by actinic keratosis, texture, and tone changes including mottled pigmentation and skin laxity may see excellent results. You may also see improvements of large pores and pitted acne scars. Active acne can improve dramatically.