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PhotoDynamic Therapy and Amino-Levulinic Acid

PhotoDynamic Therapy has become the most effective way for treating acne conditions. Lasers help shrink the Sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) and reduce sebum production in a few treatments. This new therapy is becoming the latest in combination techniques working to kill bacteria and shrink sebaceous glands. These lasers are known to also improve collagen formation and the appearance of acne scars.

The ELOS acne laser therapy is a non-ablative laser, using a broad spectrum of Light and Radio Frequency energies to target the sebaceous glands. The light frequency heats up the P.Acnes (acne bacteria in the pores) and helps shrink the sebaceous glands. Radio frequency helps to improve the texture of skin, which most acne patients suffer from rough, oily and blotchy skin. This treatment has no down time, low risk and offers a safe improvement for those with active acne.

What is Amino-Levulinic Acid (ALA)?

Amino-Levulinic Acid or ALA is a naturally occurring substance in the body. This product is applied topically and the body selectively absorbs the substance into the sebaceous glands, hair follicles and photo-damaged skin cells. The ALA is converted into a photosensitizer and activated by light treatment, which then destroys the targeted cells in the skin. ALA is left on the skin for 30 to 60 minutes before activated with the PhotoDynamic Therapy. This product is activated by light sources. Patients must remain out of the sun or bright indoor light for a minimum of 48 hours post treatment. Sunscreens do not protect against photosensitivity in the skin.

How is the Amino-Levulinic Acid (ALA) Activated?

This treatment is a two-step process which the product is applied and then the ALA is activated. First, the ALA will be applied to the skin. The ALA becomes a photosensitizer and the acne lesions are attracted to the solution. The ALA will remain on the skin for 30 to 60 minutes. After the product has settled into the skin we will perform the Acne Laser treatment on the skin, which activates the photosensitizer. The purpose of this treatment is to stimulate a photochemical reaction in the skin. A significant improvement in moderate to severe acne can be achieved in as little as one to three treatments.

What are the risks involved?

ALA is a safe alternative to antibiotics and chemical acne treatments. Most patients feel no discomfort, but some experience mild discomfort, such as stinging, burning, and tingling of the acne lesions. Change in skin color may occur and skin may turn red and have mild swelling the following week. Slight scabbing may occur on the acne lesions. Skin becomes very sensitive to any light source, such as sun and bright indoor lighting. The skin slowly heals and begins to show gradual improvement throughout the series of treatments.

What else does Amino-Levulinic Acid (ALA) treat?

Besides treatment of acne lesions, ALA can help with other skin conditions as well:

  • Precancerous skin lesions by preventing skin cancer
  • Improvement of wrinkles and pore size
  • Improvement of skin texture
  • Minimizing pigmentation
  • Treatment of sebaceous hyperplasia


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