Photodynamic therapy is a novel, advanced technology to treat severe sun- damaged skin, pre-malignant conditions (actinic keratoses and Bowen’s disease) as well as superficial basal cell carcinomas (please note that other forms of BCC are not suitable for this kind of treatment).

These abnormal skin cells will absorb a chemical that, when exposed to light, destroys these abnormal cells. This process is called 'Photodynamic Therapy', or PDT for short.

PDT is particularly useful where sun-damage can produce red, scaly, hardened and wrinkled skin. This type of skin often has pre-cancerous areas as well.

As an additional bonus, because of this effect, PDT can also be used to treat some of the sun-related effects of ageing, resulting in smoother, less-blemished skin.

PDT requires the use of specialised equipment. It also requires an understanding of the medical condition being treated. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as some skin cancers and skin conditions must not be treated with this technique, so ensure that you are seen by a skin cancer specialist such as Mr Banwell before having any PDT.

Outcomes & Expectations

Once your skin check has been completed and you are ready for PDT, the rest is relatively easy. A compound called ALA (eg. Metfix) will be applied to your skin and allowed to 'incubate', usually for about 2-3 hours. The area is then exposed to either a special light (eg. Actilight) to activate the ALA. The process is trying to destroy the abnormal sun-damaged cells, so you can expect to get some redness, scaling and crusting in the treated areas.; you might also find the light activation treatment painful. However, these should heal within a few days to a week after which the treated area should be smoother and have less blemishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can be treated by PDT?

    An increasing number of conditions can now be treated. Specific skin conditions can be targeted including 'solar keratoses', actinic keratoses, Bowen’s diease, superficial basal cell carcinoma, acne and as a treatment for rejuvenation.

  • What will I look like after the treatment?

    Initially, you will have some redness at the treated sites. After a few days, some of the areas that had abnormal skin cells will start to form crusts and small sores. These will heal usually within a few days. When all the treatments are completed and your skin has healed it should look smoother, less scaly and the lesions will hopefully disappear.

  • How many treatments will I need?

    Usually there are two treatment sessions involved but sometimes for larger lesions a further treatment may be required . These are held 2 weeks apart. If you are having PDT for the treatment of a biopsy-proven skin cancer, then it is very important that you have follow up with Mr Banwell on a regular basis. All treatments for skin cancer have a certain recurrence rate and if you have had one skin cancer, it means that your skin has been damaged by the sun and so you may be prone to more skin cancers. If you see any new spots or any old spots changing, return to see Mr Banwell immediately.

Please contact Mr Banwell's office on 01342 330302 or email help@skinhealth.org.uk for further information.

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