Blue Light Therapy for Actinic Keratoses
With the use of the revolutionary BLU-U blue light photodynamic therapy illuminator, you can see real results in destroying actinic keratosis and healing your skin. Actinic keratosis are rough, dry, scaly patches of skin that can eventually lead to skin cancer.
These skin cells can be destroyed by the blue light photodynamic therapy, resulting in a treatment option for your AK without prescriptions, daily medication, or any scarring or downtime.
What are Actinic Keratoses (AKs)?
AKs – often called “sun spots”— are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) such as sunlight. They occur most often on sun exposed areas such as the face, scalp or ears, and can range in color from skin toned to reddish brown. They can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter.
Actinic Keratoses treatment from Dr Sax
frequently asked questions
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is the use of a medication activated by light. PDT for treating precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses), improving skin tone and erasing sun damage utilizes a topical (on the skin) solution in conjunction with a blue light, or intense pulsed light source. This treatment acts by eliminating sun damaged and precancerous cells as well as shrinking sebaceous glands damaged by the sun.
The skin is swabbed to remove oils. Levulan Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid) is then applied to the skin and left on for 60 minutes. The patient then rests in a reclining position with goggles on while a blue light shines on the skin for 16 minutes. In some patients, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) may be used instead of the blue light to help with brown spots and blood vessels. A titanium/zinc sunscreen is then applied.
A slight stinging, tingling or warm sensation may be noticeable during treatment with the blue light or IPL. For those patients receiving IPL photodynamic therapy (not blue light), an over the counter cream called LMX (4 or 5%, 30 gms) may be special ordered at your local pharmacy. It can be applied in our office after the Levulan solution has been washed off. For patients treated with the blue light, we use a cold fan to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible. Numbing cream is not helpful when using the blue light.
Redness, swelling, increased warmth and tingling sensations may occur for 1 to 3 days after treatment. Redness and scaling may be present for up to 1 week depending on the degree of sun damage. Rarely, crusting, darkening or lightening of areas of the skin, intense redness and prolonged swelling or stinging may occur. These generally resolve with proper skin care. Sun avoidance is absolutely necessary for 48 hours after the procedure. A sunscreen containing titanium and zinc oxide must be worn daily. Patients must wear a hat to protect the face from sunlight while outside during this 48 hour period as well.
PDT has been FDA approved for treatment of precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses). The original FDA approval involved overnight application of the Levulan medication, with light treatment the following day. Side effects and discomfort were much more unpleasant with this method. For this reason, PDT is more commonly being performed with 1-3 hour application time of Levulan. PDT is also being used to treat acne because of its shrinking effects on sebaceous glands.
Current recommendations suggest 1 to 2 treatments are necessary to achieve results. Recent data suggests approximately 90% of patients obtain significant improvement from this regimen. In addition, precancerous lesions and sometimes very superficial skin cancers that are not yet visible on the skin can be cleared. Improvement likely lasts years with continued use of sunscreens and anti-aging creams such as retinoids (Retrinal, Retinol, Retin-A, Renova).
Before & After