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Photodynamic Therapy (commonly referred to as PDT) is a treatment for acne that involves using a medication and a light based treatment together to reduce inflammatory acne.

One of the contributing factors for acne is the amount of sebum (oil) production. Generally speaking, acne patients have heavier sebum production than those patients without acne problems. There is more than one way to treat overactive oil glands and Accutane is a very common method. Accutane is a very effective drug, but does have many side effects that make it difficult for patients to stay on. So, when accutane is not an option, photodynamic therapy becomes a great one.

PDT uses a medication called Aminolevulanic acid (also referred to as ALA) and a light therapy called the Blu-u to reduce sebum production by targeting the oil glands specifically. The liquid medication (ALA) is placed on the skin and the patient “incubates” for a period from 3-8 hours. During this period, the medication sinks into the skin and becomes preferentially absorbed in the quickly reproducing cells of the oil glands. Because the medication is highly photo-sensitizing (reacts to light and is highly absorbed), when the patient is placed in front of the Blu-u device, the reaction is similar to a very bad sunburn and occurs regardless of what skin type the patient is.

The ultimate outcome for PDT is that a majority of the patients we treat see a significant reduction in the amount of active acne after 2-3 PDT treatments. If you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County, CA area and are interested in an alternative to accutane, call today to find out more about photodynamic therapy.


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