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Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Dermatologists at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) deliver the treatments you need for healthy skin. We offer all the latest offerings, including photodynamic therapy. This treatment is for skin problems that do not get better with standard treatments.

This form of blue light therapy improves the appearance of sun-damaged skin and can clear up acne breakouts. We also use photodynamic therapy to treat the early signs of skin cancer.

What is photodynamic therapy (PDT)?

Photodynamic therapy uses a combination of blue light therapy and light-sensitive drugs to treat skin problems.

  • Blue light therapy works by exposing your skin to high-intensity violet or blue light. The light beams interrupt biologic processes that cause problems, such as acne and skin cancer.
  • Photodynamic therapy takes blue light therapy one step further with the help of light-sensitive drugs. The drugs work with the blue light waves to target abnormal cells and remove them from the skin.

Conditions we treat using photodynamic therapy

PDT therapy works in different ways to prevent or treat skin diseases, such as:

  • Skin cancer: Photodynamic therapy lowers your risk of skin cancer by removing scaly patches of skin that could become cancerous. Treatments weaken cancer cells and break up their blood supply.
  • Acne: Photodynamic therapy reduces the amount of oil in your skin and kills the bacteria that cause acne breakouts.
  • Sun damage (photoaging): PDT helps restore collagen, which is a protein that gives your skin a more youthful appearance. If you use chemical peels for photoaging, PDT can take your care one step further by repairing cells below the surface of your skin.

Photodynamic therapy at AHN: Why choose us?

All of our dermatologists are board-certified. Board-certified dermatologists have the skills and knowledge needed to successfully deliver photodynamic therapy. And our years of PDT experience helps you get the most out of each treatment. 

For care that meets your unique needs, we may combine PDT with other dermatology services, including:

  • Skin cancer testing and treatment: We deliver effective care that lowers your risk for cancer that comes back. You have access to sophisticated techniques, such as mole mapping. Find out more about our melanoma and pigmented lesion clinic.
  • Cosmetic dermatology: PDT is one way to achieve a healthy, even complexion. Our cosmetic dermatology services can also improve the appearance of your skin between PDT treatments. Our offerings include injectables and laser treatments. Read more about our cosmetic dermatology services.

PDT at AHN: What to expect

If photodynamic therapy is right for you, you’ll receive treatments in our office once or twice a week. Your dermatologist will let you know how many weeks of treatment you need.

Here’s what to expect during PDT:

  1. We clean the treatment area before applying a medicated cream. The cream contains drugs that react to light therapy.
  2. You wait one hour for your skin to absorb the drugs.
  3. We give you goggles to protect your eyes and then expose the treatment area to high-intensity blue light.

After photodynamic therapy:

  • You may experience redness and sensitivity to touch immediately after PDT.
  • Your skin will be sensitive to light while you are healing, so it’s important to avoid sunlight.
  • The treatment area will form blisters and scab over after a few days.
  • The scabs clear up in a few weeks leaving behind healthy skin.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN dermatology services.