Photodynamic Therapy is characterised by the use of 5-Amino-Levulinic Acid (5-ALA) and the addition of a light source to activate the process.
In sun damage, Actinic Keratoses (the often hard, discoloured lesions that are found on areas with ongoing sun exposure such as the head, face, arms, legs and chest) are able to be removed permanently with no scarring after only a few treatments.
The process itself is very simple. The photosensitizing agent (5-ALA) is applied to the treatment area and allowed to incubate over a period of 1-4 hours (depending upon the severity of the damage). After incubation the area is lit with a light source – commonly an LED – in both the red and blue spectrum.
Following this, for approximately 2 weeks after treatment, the mutated cells slough off giving a mottled and scabbed appearance to the treatment area. This is part of the process and allows healthy, rejuvenated skin to appear in this time.
One of the major benefits of 5-ALA is that it targets mutated cells ONLY. The sloughing process does not apply to healthy skin and it is left alone.