Did you know that light can be used to treat problems created by light?
Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, is known to cause skin damage, called photodamage. Skin damage is demonstrated by unwanted pigmentation (brown spots or liver spots), visible blood vessels (broken capillaries), wrinkles, precancers and skin cancers.
There are exciting new less invasive methods to treat these problems. Intense pulse light (IPL) has become a most popular method for treating sun damaged skin.
The newest trend in skin care treatment combines IPL with a photosensitizing compound. This improves the results of IPL alone and is known as Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT).
IPL is broad spectrum light or light with many wavelengths compared to laser, which is light of a single wavelength. Certain lasers remove, ablate, the outer layer of skin. This works great for dark spots, and deep lines or wrinkles. IPL and other non-ablative lasers do not remove skin. Pigmentation, blood vessels, hair follicles ‘and other components absorb the light energy causing heat to build-up underneath the skin. IPL is commonly used to treat sun damage by lightening brown spots, shrinking shallow blood vessels, and softening fine lines.
The result is smoother skin with a more even tone and texture.
These less procedures have minimal recovery, but often require repeated treatments. Adding a photosensitizer may improve the results with fewer treatments.
Recently, aminolevulenic acid (ALA) was found to be a photosensitizing agent. We apply a 20 percent ALA solution to the skin. A very mild tingling sensation is noted. We remove the product after 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the underlying problem. IPL is flashed on the skin. Light energy causes the photosensitizer to release oxygen radicals, which kills undesirable cells and bacteria.
Reducing photodamage and precancers, hopefully, will prevent or delay non-melanoma skin cancers. PDT may also replace Accutane for the treatment of severe acne one day. We have seen encouraging results with our acne clients already.