Hey guys! Thanks for checking out my blog-I started this blog to let others know about my experience with PDT and some expectations that can come along with the treatment.
First, a little history. I am in my 20s and have suffered with acne since my early teens. I have tried various antibiotics (including monocyline, doxycycline), various creams (Retin A, epiduo, duac, aczone), and accutane in 2008. The accutane definitely worked, however it took 6 months of me taking 40mg BID. This is quite a large amount for my tiny frame, and the side effects were a bit frightening. I started nursing school, and my breakouts were almost instantaneous from the stress and ragging hormones (lol). I went to the dermatologist where I was prescribed aldactone (150 mg) and doxycycline (200 mg) (both of which I am taking now). It has taken a full 6 months for me to see the therapeutic effects. I still have persistent acne/plugs around my chin and scaring, so I wanted to address this with my dermatologist (BUT those big hormonal cysts are a rarity). I am VERY (I mean VERY) fair skinned, so she recommended a round of the photodynamic treatments to get rid of my persistent acne. Now onto the journey...
I had my first PDT treatment 2 weeks ago, and I was TERRIFIED. I had done my research as well as looked at reviews (some of which were not so promising) so I thought I was prepared for the worst. My first treatment, I had the levulan applied to my face and incubated for an hour in the waiting room. Then I was placed under the blue light for 18 minutes. There was some stinging and feelings of warmth, however, it was NOT painful at all (I actually started dozing off). I was instructed to remain out of the sunlight for at least 2 days and use 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water soaks. On the first day, my face was hardly red, and there was a slight burning but nothing unbearable (I expected much worse because I never go in the sun or tan). On the second day, a little more red, but the burning had subsided. On the third day, I was still red, but my skin felt tight around my lips. By the fourth day, I was expecting peeling...this did not happen. I had some flaking around my lips (which really wasn't a "problem area") and that was all. By the fifth day, I started to become frightened because I had hyperpigmentation of my acne scars as well as some brown pigmentation above my lip. I knew this treatment was meant for precancerous lesions and would draw out the scars and pigments, however, I was not peeling so I was afraid they would not peel off. I made an appointment with the dermatologist because my acne showed no signs of improvement, and I was now concerned with the hyperpigmentation since PDT was supposed to help with this.
When I saw my dermatologist, she stated that there was no way to tell the results only a week after the treatment and insisted that I continue with my treatments (up to 3). I asked about the pigmentation and if this would get worse-she stated that she was unsure until treatment was completed but that there was always bleaching creams. My nerves were still on edge after I had spoken with her, so I called 6 other institutions that also offered the PDT asking if they had ever had patients that had no reaction to the treatments and had an increase in pigmentation. I also asked what their opinion was on continuing with the treatment. ALL of them stated that the therapy was meant to draw out the impurities and would make some scars more noticeable, but that I should continue with therapy to judge the full effects.
Well I had my second PDT procedure 3 days ago, and this one is not pretty (I will post a picture-forewarning, it's scary). The levulan was placed on my face for 2 hours and I saw under the light for 10 minutes. This was totally different from the first time- as soon as the light came on, instantaneous stinging and burning-almost to the point of tears (YIKES). I had to sit there and count to 60 ten times to try and distract myself. When the nurse came in she exclaimed "oh! you're going to peel!" (surprisingly this made me feel hopeful that the tx would work this time). The pain was so bad that night, that I had to take acetaminophen every 4 hours and keep ice packs and cool vinegar soaks on my face the entire night (I had the procedure at 8:30 am-so yeah, it was a pain).
By day 2, VERY VERY red-it even burned my lips. The pain had definitely subsided and just felt like I had been out in the sun all day. That night, I looked in the mirror....and horror struck. There were probably about 15 whiteheads around my nose. I was surprised because I generally break out around my chin (those big whoopers) and I don't typically get whiteheads. I know it's bad to pick, but I could literally scratch the surface of them and they would pop, so very superficial. I also expected this because I had read of others having this procedure as well as the fact that I just burned a layer of my skin, so the impurities are now much closer to the surface.
Well Today is day 3- for some reason what I like to call my raccoon eyes are more pronounced, and I am still very red. However, my face is much tighter today, and I am hopeful that I will peel by tomorrow (fingers crossed). I had more whiteheads, but i am leaving them alone hoping that they will peel off. I start school in 5 days, so I am hoping that the redness will be gone and that I can cover this up with makeup. If anyone has any questions about the treatments so far, PLEASE don't hesitate to ask, and I will be happy to help
- Scary! I can't believe I am posting, but I hope it helps. P.S. If the link doesn't work, open a new tab and copy the link beginning with https and ending with inline&zx then paste it into the URL box in the new window
Toodles and best of luck to all!