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Blue Light Therapy (Photodynamic Therapy)

Blue Light Therapy bulbs

Photodynamic therapy involves the use of specific light or laser sources to treat a variety of common skin conditions. This treatment may be combined with a topical medication or used alone. Boone Dermatology Clinic offers blue light therapy which is a type of photodynamic therapy approved to treat premalignant skin lesions and some superficial skin cancers.

Photodynamic therapy is also effective in treating acne, improving fine wrinkles around the eyes, and skin rejuvenation. Boone Dermatology Clinic's PDT system has several FDA approvals and is a wonderful way to achieve therapeutic results in a noninvasive procedure.

What is photodynamic therapy (blue light therapy)?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a medical treatment that uses a photosensitizing drug (a drug that becomes activated by light exposure) and a light source to activate the applied drug. The result is an activated oxygen molecule that can destroy nearby cells. Precancerous cells and certain types of cancer cells can be treated this way. The procedure is easily performed in the office. PDT essentially has three steps. First, a light-sensitizing liquid (photosensitizer) is applied to the skin. Second, there is an incubation period ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours. Finally, the target tissue is then exposed to a specific wavelength of light (either blue light or pulsed dye laser) that then activates the photosensitizing medication.

Although first used in the early 1900s, PDT in the modern sense is a fairly new, evolving science. Current PDT involves a variety of incubation times for the light-sensitizing drug and a variety of light sources depending on the target tissue. The basic premise of PDT is selective tissue destruction. Although the photosensitizer may be absorbed all over by many cells, atypical or cancerous cells take up more of the drug and retain the drug for a longer duration than normal tissues. More Information from


How is photodynamic therapy used to treat the skin?

PDT using Levulan and a proprietary blue light is currently FDA approved for the treatment of skin precancers called actinic keratosis (rough scaly spots generally on sun-exposed skin). PDT is also known as "ALA/PDT treatment" or "Blue Light." It has been referred to as a "super photo facial" when the photosensitizer is used with a pulsed dye laser. These treatments may help remove sun-damaged precancerous skin. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation may also be improved because of the positive effect of PDT. PDT also has been shown to help decrease the appearance of pores and reduce oil glands, effectively treating some stubborn acne, rosacea, and improving the appearance of some small superficial acne scars.

Although PDT's use in skin was first investigated in 1990s for actinic keratosis, it was not as popular or widely used because of the required long incubation times (usually 18-24 hours) and limited indications. Since approximately 2001, PDT has become more widespread in use primarily because of advances including shorter incubation times (30-60 minutes) and more applications, including acne and cosmetic skin rejuvenation. More Information from

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