Page 2 of Photodynamic therapy (PDT) - Levulan, MAL, etc. reviews

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Reviewed on December 28, 2011

This is an update to my original post about five months ago.

I actually typed "AHA" instead of "ALA," but you all knew what I meant. :)

When I went in for my third treatment, in my drug-induced haze (haha) I asked the doctor would I have to come back any more and unfortunately, I'm one of the lucky ones that this treatment apparently doesn't cure. I still break out with pus-filled lesions as well as cysts. The treatment and lasers the doctor used on me helped some to flatten an old raised Fraxel Re:store burn scar right under my jaw, but, as stated, I still break out. With these treatments running almost $700 a pop, I'm looking at new options.

Even though this didn't work for me, I do encourage you to go for it IF you have the funds. Use all options available to you...just realize this may not be the end all be all.

Current routine: using Glytone cleanser with a Clarisonic I received for Christmas. Received a new Tanda for Christmas as well. Started the Tanda and Clarisonic this week. Have been using Glytone for months. Trying a trick I heard about...Head & Shoulders shampoo. Been doing this for about a month. I think the zinc is supposed to help. Seeing a dermatologist now...back on spirolactone (for about a week now) after years of being off. Still on doxycycline and taking Vitamin C, lysine, and bromelain as supplements. Still on Ortho-Lo and using Retin-A.

Although I'm still having some serious breakouts and major scarring, and I hate looking at myself and having others look at me, I am trying to stay positive and look forward to getting these breakouts under control so I can have my Fraxel Re:pair. I hope that's a godsend. My new dermatologist wants to use a Sciton (spelling?) laser treatment after we get a hold of my acne instead of Re:pair.

Keeping fighting the fight and sharing your experiences. As hideous as I feel, I am stronger than most for going through all that I have. And so are you.


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Reviewed on December 3, 2011

The treatments I have received since the last 5 years included Levulan applied and left for 2 hours and then NOT rinsed off but IPL and Blu-U were used after the 2 hours to activate the Levulan experienced some burning, itching and a great deal of red coloration and after the third day, a great deal of peeling so that one complete layer of my skin was exfoliated and it looks like a second layer may peel from my nose and chin all new skin exposed looks great very tight and clean - must stay out of the sun and take good care of my skin by using Cetaphil cleanser and creme and then I will resume PCA skin treatment following that

I have an excellent doctor who works at Vancouver Laser and Skin Care and he will evaluate your skin before the treatment

After treatment care consists of vinegar rinses sounds strange but relieves that itchy feeling


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Reviewed on November 30, 2011

I've had cystic acne for years, and light treatment with levulan was a last resort before resorting to accutane for the second time in my life.

I had four treatments of ALA with IPL (intense pulsed light--current literature suggests that IPL might be more effective in severe cases of acne than Blue light) performed at a world-renowned university's cosmetic laser center. Treatments were performed at 3 week intervals. Each time, skin was cleansed with propanol; ALA was applied, left on for 90 minutes, and removed with a mild cleanser. Single pass IPL was performed @ 23J/cm2.

After each treatment, skin only remained red for only a day or so. I had it done on Fridays, and always looked normal enough for class on Monday. Little to no pain, though the procedure was similar to having a rubber band slapped against the skin--mildly uncomfortable.

For two weeks after each treatment I had severe acne flares, only to have smoother (but still acne-ridden) skin one week before my next treatment. This trend continued until after the last treatment, where skin eventually ceased to be smooth, and acne was as bad as ever.

In sum, it didn't work for me, but studies suggest that it might work for you...I guess...


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Reviewed on November 4, 2011

Do not believe the hype. If you choose to do this procedure be aware it can cause serious permanent damage; scarring, permanent redness.


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Reviewed on October 24, 2011

I had IPL with levulan blue light treatment for melasma. It caused me a lot of pain, and while it cleared up my hyperpigmentation for a few weeks, it all came back within a month. So the $750 was a complete waste.

Worse, it actually caused me to have moderate to severe acne for months afterwards. Since the treatment I have suffered from whiteheads and painful cysts, first on my chin and now on my cheeks. I am hoping I am at the tail end of it, four months later, as it does seem to finally be clearing up somewhat.

I would not recommend this treatment, and wish I would not have done it. At least I could cover the skin discoloration with makeup. The acne bumps cannot be covered and I have suffered due to the acne.


Reviewed on July 23, 2011

I have hormonal acne that flares up around a certain time of the month. I don't ever get white heads, it is always cystic. After being on several oral meds I wanted off...its not worth it to me to be on meds month after month. My skin is clean but I still fight with cysts that come out. Topicals don't help so I went to a facial plastic surgeon who has a dermspa and recommended this treatment. They recommended I have 2 chemical peels first then the levulan treatment. I went on a THURSDAY to have the levulan put on. It didn't bother me at all just noticed my face turning red as the hrs went by. Woke up on FRIDAY, went to the office where they removed it and placed me under a blue light for 17 minutes. I thought I was gonna die. Any light activates the chemical but I did not think that it was going to feel that intense. My face swelled big time. I couldn't leave the house. They only recommended I use aloe vera w/lidocaine as needed. I didn't put anything on my face day 1 (only mild burning). Day 2 my face was normal feeling but I looked like awful. NO products were to be used until my face peeled. By day 3 I asked if a steam would help and they said it would quicken the peeling process. Along with levulan I am doing 4 IPL treatments, an ACTIVE FX session, and a couple more peels (total of $1500..levulan treatment separately $350). This office also prescribed bleaching cream, BenzaClin (which they stressed) and retin-a. Overall I am only in the beginning of the package but I hope that this helps control the cysts.


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Reviewed on July 23, 2011

I've always had oily skin, large pores, and zits here and there but my skin exploded with cystic acne after a traumatic experience when I was 27. I've tried EVERYTHING under the Sun to cure the acne as well as repair the depressed and icepick scars that humiliate me. My last resort before I have a Fraxel Re:pair (this winter -- EXCITED!) was photodynamic therapy.

The first time I had a PDT it involved a light microderm, followed by the AHA being applied and left to incubate for an hour. After that I sat for 15 minutes under a blue light. There was no pain, just a warm sensation -- like getting too much sun -- but I had a fan on my face to keep cool. Afterwards the doc shot me with an IPL (which hurt like heck even with Valium). The aftermath was that I had only a few whiteheads and I looked like I had a bad sunburn. I kept out of the sun for two days (medicine is still active), and kept Aquaphor on (yuck) until I went back a week later. Bottom line: I had slight flaking, but a definite decrease in oil all over but especially on my cheeks. My forehead was still kind of oily and my chin had a shine, but it wasn't as bad as it was. My pores were smaller, but I still broke out in small zits and whiteheads. I was told to give my face at least 6 weeks for it to completely purge itself. There was no change to the scars. I'm also still on antibiotics.

This second time -- 3 weeks later -- the doc decided to do a light Fraxel Re:store before the PDT to work the medicine deep in my skin. So I had a microderm, numbing cream, Fraxel, then the PDT and IPL. I had this on Tuesday. Wednesday I had a TON of whiteheads. Now my face is really red and peeling like a snake from the Fraxel. I'm keeping Aquaphor on it until I go back next Tues. I have lots of raised red bumps and a few whiteheads. Little to no scar improvement (to me), but let's cross our fingers. What I want most is an end to this acne (as a 31 year-old woman!) and to smooth out the scars that disgust


Reviewed on June 11, 2011

I've had my first of 3 treatments (ALA on my face and upper back for 1 hour, 6-7 mins of Blu-U). I was very careful to stay out of the sun after the treatment for well over 24 hours and I think this is the key to lowering side effects. Mine were fairly mild - red skin for 2 days, followed by dark spots where my bigger pimples had been for another few days, followed by moderate peeling. I was back in public after 24-48 hours and skin looking better than ever by the end of the 1st week. My skin tone has already improved, the number of pimples has been significantly reduced, and I'm very satisfied with the results...all that and it's still only my first of 3 treatments! Supposedly, this treatment can reduce oil...it's hard to say at this point. There may be a bit of a reduction. I'm hoping that things will only improve more with each additional treatment. I highly recommend this if you can afford it. Just stay out of the sun COMPLETELY for the first 24-48 hrs and side effects should be well worth it.

In case it matters, I'm a 31 year old male and have fought mild to moderate acne since my teens. I'm very oily and I've tried basically everything on the store shelves that's supposed to work for acne, with little effect. I've also tried doxycycline (oral) and topical clindamycin with moderate effect. Have never tried accutane. Only one treatment in and photodynamic therapy is the most effective thing i've tried by far. Hopefully the results last! The acne on my face is mostly white heads and black heads. The acne on my back is more cystic. The treatment seems to be working well for all types, though I suspect the cystic acne on my back will be slower to resolve. The price I list is per treatment and per area.


Reviewed on May 16, 2011

Would do it again if needed. I had the Levulan left on for 7 hours before it was activated by the blue light. I believe this is better than 3 smaller treatments as it gets very deep. Its been 3 months still get a few pimples but they usually clear up quick.


Reviewed on May 11, 2011

Hi all! I has this tx done 1 week ago today and had some concerns to share. First, a little history-I have been fighting acne for 8 years ( am 21) and have used various topicals (duac, epiduo, Rentin A) and antibiotics (Doxycycline, minocycline) and accutane in 2008 (40 mg BID for 6 months). I am currently taking 150 mg of Aldactone which has helped with my hormonal bumps, however, I wanted to get rid of some of the scarring and pesky plugs in my chin. My dermatologist recommended this tx for me since I have very fair skin and light acne. I incubated with the levulan for 1 hour and sat under the light for 18 minutes. I had redness and stinging for 2-3 days after the treatment and then I had hyperpigmentation of the scars and some brown patches appeared. I had no peeling and am very concerned that the next tx will exacerbate the discoloration. Again, it has been a week and the hyperpigmentation still persists. The dermatologist insisted that I continue through my series of txs and wants to increase my incubation time to 1.5 hours, but I am still frightened of how my skin is going to react. If anyone out there has experienced a similar reaction, I would greatly appreciate some advice and if this hyperpigmentation will get better with subsequent treatments. Thanks for your help, and best of luck to those trying this treatment