Photodynamic Therapy for Acne

Photodynamic Therapy for Acne

Photodynamic Therapy™ (PDT) is a simple two-step treatment protocol for the treatment of moderate to severe acne and skin photorejuvenation.

Levulan®  PDT with continuous Blue light (Blu-U) or red light kills acne-causing bacteria in the skin, exfoliates the skin to unclog pores and reduces capabilities of oil-producing glands in the skin. PDT can help patients who have failed or are unwilling to take Accutane.  In addition to acne, PDT treatments can help treat acne rosacea, sebaceous hyperplasia and improve the appearance of some acne scars. PDT decreases oiliness of the skin and improves skin texture and smoothness by minimizing pore size.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves the use of photochemical reactions mediated through the interaction of photosensitizing agents (Levulan®, ALA, 5-aminolevulinic acid), light and oxygen. PDT is a two-step procedure.  In the first step, the thin layer of photosensitizer is applied to the affected skin. In the second step the photosensitizer is activated in the presence of oxygen with a select wavelength of light (Blu-U, red).  Because the photosensitizer is preferentially absorbed by inflamed and damaged skin and the light source is directly targeted on the lesional skin Levulan®  PDT achieves dual selectivity, minimizing damage to adjacent healthy structures.

A clear liquid called Levulan® Kerastick® is applied to the skin.  After a selected period of time (incubation period) the skin will be exposed to a blue light called a BLU-U.



The only FDA-approved indication for Levulan® PDT in dermatology currently is the treatment of actinic keratoses (AKs). Common off-label uses include the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC), photoaging, and squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen disease). 



levulan pdt consent form

Pre-procedure instructions

Post-Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)form

Post-procedure instructions

Post-Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)form

Frequently Asked Questions About PDT
What are the benefits of PDT?

The benefits of Levulan PDT include:

  • Reduce the risk of developing skin cancer by treating pre-cancerous AKs.
  • Improvement in the appearance of your skin. After Levulan® PDT treatment sun damage, fine lines, pore size and blotchy pigmentation are less visible.
  • Less downtime than other treatment options.

Many of the patients participating in studies experienced 75% to 100% clearance of early AKs eight weeks after treatment with Levulan®Kerastick® Topical Solution and blue light.

What are the disadvantages?

Levulan® PDT treatment may be associated with burning/stinging sensations.  Following Levulan® PDT, the treated areas can appear red and/or swollen. The skin may peel within 2 – 7 days. Darker pigmented patches may become temporarily darker (temporary hyperpigmentation) and then peel off, leaving normal skin. These side effects are rare and most patients experience little to no downtime. Treated areas of the skin should not be exposed to direct sunlight 72 hours after treatment. Repeat treatments may be necessary.

What precautions should be taken post-treatment?

Patients should avoid exposure of the photosensitive treatment sites to sunlight or bright indoor light prior to and at least 48 hours after light treatment. Exposure may result in a stinging and/or burning sensation and may cause erythema or edema of the lesions. Sunscreens will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light.