Treating sun damage and actinic keratoses
Sun exposure plays havoc with your skin. Besides skin discoloration from hyper-pigmentation, enlarged pores, collagen breakdown and spots, you may develop more serious conditions that can threaten your well being.
PhotoDynamic Therapy (PDT) has multiple applications. Besides being effective for some of the results of sun damage mentioned above, it is an FDA approved treatment for pre-cancerous Actinic Keratosis.
What are AK’s?
Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a common skin condition that can signal the early beginnings of skin cancer. AK lesions develop as a result to prolonged exposure to the sun (ultraviolet radiation) over the years.
As time passes, untreated AK can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer. Dr. Zaks can quickly and effectively treat your AKs with Photodynamic Therapy.
What do AKs look like?
AK lesions are caused by the overgrowth and thickening of the outermost layers of your skin, and can vary in appearance. They can be flat or raised, flaky or scaly, look like red patches, crusts or sores. They range in size from a few millimeters (the size of a pinhead) to 2 centimeters (about the size of a nickel).
Because all AK lesions can look different, it is a good idea to do a thorough skin check on a regular basis and note any new changes or suspicious spots to Dr. Zaks. AKs are generally found on parts of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face and a balding scalp.
How does PDT get rid of AKs?
By using a special topical solution called Levulan that’s activated by light or laser, abnormal cells are targeted and killed. Levulan is a “smart” solution. It is only absorbed by abnormal cells such as those in pre-cancerous actinic keratosis, sun damaged skin and acne conditions. It is the selectivity of this solution in targeting only the abnormal cells that allows such quick success in restoring your skin to a healthy normal condition.
As opposed to “spot” treatments for removing AK’s, Photodynamic Therapy improves the entire area treated creating one color, texture, and tone. In addition to treatment of AKs, PDT is often used for improving skin tone and texture and also Resistant Acne.
Overall sun damage accumulates over the years and we are usually not aware of it (with the exception of an obvious sunburn). It takes years for the damage caused by UV exposure to show up on our skin. Here is a photo taken with a special camera that shows underlying damage that has not yet shown up on the skin surface.