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Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

“The gold standard treatment for treating the signs of sun damage on the skin”

Dr. Ophelia Veraitch, Consultant Dermatologist

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Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Quick Stats

Used to Treat

Photodamage and pre-cancerous skin lesions


Visible downtime for a week following treatment


Topical anaesthetic

Results Last

3 to 12 months

Areas Treated

Face and body

Procedure Time

1-3 hours for incubation and 15 to 30 minutes for procedure

Why Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a versatile medical treatment that is commonly employed to tackle photodamage, including fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots, while also treating pre-cancerous actinic keratosis lesions and moderate acne. It's useful for promoting skin rejuvenation by enhancing texture and collagen production, and addressing conditions like sebaceous hyperplasia, warts, and certain non-melanoma skin cancers.

PDT uses a targeted approach that allows it to selectively damage problematic cells, offering a minimally invasive treatment with less downtime compared to more aggressive options.

Treating Your Cosmetic Concerns

  • Sun spots
  • Pre-cancerous skin changes (actinic keratoses, Bowen’s disease)

What is Photodynamic Therapy?

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a medical treatment that involves using a photosensitising agent (a special type of topical medication) and a specific type of light to treat various skin conditions, including photodamage and signs of ageing. PDT is a versatile procedure that can target not only sun-damaged skin but also certain types of precancerous skin lesions and acne.

How does Photodynamic Therapy work?

The treatment involves applying a special cream that contains a drug that is acted on by a light 1-3 hours later. The light is harmless by itself, and the cream is also harmless by itself. Only when the two are combined will they treat the abnormal area of your skin. The light activates the cream to kill the cancer or precancer cells.

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Your Questions Answered

What happens during treatment?

First, the topical photosensitising agent is applied to the skin. This agent is selectively absorbed by certain cells in the skin, such as damaged cells. After applying the photosensitising agent, there's typically a waiting period (incubation time) of 1 to 3 hours during which the agent is allowed to be absorbed by the targeted cells. The duration of this waiting period can vary based on the specific treatment and the agent used.

Once the incubation period is complete, the treated area is exposed to a specific wavelength of light, often a red or blue light. This light activates the photosensitising agent, causing it to produce reactive oxygen species that selectively damage or destroy the targeted cells. The damaged or targeted cells are destroyed, leading to the shedding of damaged skin cells and stimulation of the body's natural healing process.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) treatments needed varies based on the specific skin condition being treated. For improving skin texture, reducing fine lines, and treating sunspots, patients typically undergo a series of 2 to 4 treatments spaced about 2 to 4 weeks apart. For actinic keratosis usually 1 to 3 sessions are required, with follow-up sessions as needed.

What areas can be treated?

Photodynamic Therapy can effectively target various skin conditions on multiple areas of the body. Commonly treated areas include the face, where PDT addresses photodamage, sunspots, and fine lines, leading to skin rejuvenation. Additionally, PDT can be used on the scalp for actinic keratosis, the chest and neck to improve skin appearance, the hands to counter ageing signs, and the back, shoulders, legs, and arms for conditions like precancerous lesions.

When will I see results?

Generally, results become noticeable gradually over several weeks. After the immediate effects of redness, swelling, and then peeling and flaking, gradual improvements follow, with smoother fine lines, faded sunspots, and enhanced skin texture becoming apparent.

How long do results last?

Generally, PDT can provide several months to over a year of improvement for photodamage and skin rejuvenation, with ongoing benefits from multiple treatments. Results for actinic keratosis can be long-lasting, but new lesions may develop due to sun exposure. PDT's effects aren't permanent due to ageing and sun exposure, making sun protection and skincare crucial for extending results.

Does the treatment hurt?

Discomfort is managed using cooling techniques or adjustments to light settings. In some cases, a topical anaesthetic or pain-relieving cream may be applied before the procedure to help reduce sensitivity.

What is the downtime?

Although you can return to regular activities after treatment, you might experience skin reactions or changes that can affect your appearance. Initially, you might experience redness, swelling, and warmth, which typically subside within a day or two. Over the following days to a week, peeling, flaking, and mild crusting might occur as damaged cells are shed and new skin forms. This is the main form of visible downtime. Strict sun protection is essential during this time. You can often resume your regular skincare routine and use makeup a day or two after the treatment, as long as it's gentle and non-irritating.

Why visit Dr. Ophelia for your photodynamic therapy treatment?

Dr. Ophelia Veraitch is an award-winning and highly respected Consultant Dermatologist. Specialising in a wide variety of hair and skin conditions, Dr. Veraitch works with every patient individually, working to truly understand the issue at hand, the products and regime a client utilises plus the mental and physical impact this condition has on their daily life. Following a detailed assessment, Dr. Veraitch expertly develops a personalised treatment plan which will help produce results, and ultimately change every one of her patient’s lives for the better.

What are my next steps?

Book a consultation with Dr. Ophelia, who will diagnose your condition and offer treatment options going forward, Click the link below to start the process.

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Photodynamic Therapy Prices

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