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missypooh

My experiences with PhotoDynamic Therapy/Levulan

Hey everyone - I've been reading so many posts and threads on this board with such interest, and wanted to write a quick summary of my very own experiences with Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan (ALA).

Brief history: I'm 37 yrs old, & have been dealing with mild/moderate cystic acne since I was about 22 yrs old. I've been on every oral antibiotic imaginable, almost every topical cream made, Ortho Tricycline, OrthoNovum 777, ProActiv, BP, SA, glycolic cleansers, Mario Badescu products, Erno Laslo sea mud soap.... you know the drill. I could go on and on..... no permanant results. I live in South Florida, and am sure that my skin is worsened somewhat by the humid/hot conditions that I live in..... although, for about 5 yrs I lived in Illinois, up by Chicago, and while the cold helped alleviate the oiliness and breakouts somewhat, I still had problems.... I always had dermatologists for cortisone injections for the whopper cysts, and yes, I've been approached about Accutane - many times. But, seeing as I'm still in my reproductive years, I'm not open to the 2 forms of BC and fear of side effects that accompany Accutane. I've even gone to an endocrinologist to have my hormone levels checked......to which I was told, "they're fine". Ok - so if they're "fine", why am I having "hormonal acne"?!? :boohoo:

So, for a while, I did nothing about my skin. Cleansed with Dial antibacterial soap, moisturized with oilfree Clinique lotion, and my skin was pretty clear. This lasted about 8 months. Then, almost like a "remission" that ended, my skin went nuts. Cysts all along the jawline, hairline, chin, side of the nose, even cheeks - which were never a problem area before.

After much internet research on a particularly bad face day, I found a derm. office here in my area that offers PDT/ALA treatments. The Levulan (ALA - alphalevulanic acid) is an acid that is naturally found in our bodies, that when applied to the face, and super-heated with laser pulsed light, is activated and causes the acid to deeply penetrate the pores and damage the sebaceous gland - to stop overproduction of oil and to HELP kill p. acnes. Cool. Plus, this tx also helps with acetinic keratoses (skin cancers), and wrinkle reduction - - hey! Hit all kinds of birds with ONE stone! :dance:

So, I've had 4 treatments so far, the first one starting on August 29th - - and it hasn't been all roses, I will say. To do it, my derm cleanses my face with Acetone first - to remove any oils or residual makeup - then the Levulan is applied, via a "pen". Then I sit in the waiting area for about 45-50 minutes - to allow penetration/drying of the acid. Then, into the exam room I go again, put on some tanning goggles, and the MD then pulses this super WARM (not really hot) light via a hand held light that's attached to this big machine (like a washing machine!)....he pulsates the light back and forth all across my face starting at the forehead, at the hairline, and goes back and forth all across the face till he gets below the jawline. The light part takes no more than 3-4 mins, and then I'm on my way out - with a hat on and sunglasses... to hole up in my darkened home for about 2 days. The skin feels like a really bad windburn - like when you're on the beach, and it's not quite summer and you don't realize you're getting as much sun/wind as you are - then come inside and take off your sunglasses - - and wow! Tight, RED, swollen, yukk. Burning for a few days - I mean, hot to the touch - ice packs and ibuprofen help but it is uncomfortable.

Then the peeling starts. Small flakes, big pieces, all over. And for me, cysts come up almost immediately. NO ONE told me that my skin would get worse before it got better. I should've guessed, as it's pretty much the norm for ANY new skin treatment - it tends to get worse as all the old under the skin stuff comes up to cleanse out the pores.... but man: I was so discouraged. So not only red, swollen, ugly skin - but hey - new cysts and papules. Dang. And all for the low low price of $400 a pop. Yes, it's NOT cheap. But.......

I've now completed my 4th treatment, as of last Tues. And, so far: **fingers crossed** my skin's turning the corner. :pray: I've only had about 2-3 small cysts come up after the tx, and the old blemishes are drying up nicely - and my skin that's NOT peely looks pretty dang good - if I do say so. I'm feeling better about how this is all going to turn out - - :D It's NOT an easy series of treatments to go through - I think many people go in, have one or maybe 2 treatments, and see what happens to their complexions, and then say HELL NO, AiN'T GOING BACK FOR THAT. But, it really does take perseverance. If you don't pummel the sebaceous glands repeatedly with that acid and superheat to do the damage that's necessary to STOP the cysts from coming back, then you're not going to get the results that you want. It's NOT easy to go back, every 3-4 weeks to have your face literally burned and then, walk around with a swollen, broken out, peely face, but let me tell you - I think it's gonna WORK.

So there you have it. Sorry for the manifesto! But, there's so much to say - - it's been an interesting experience, let me tell you. But I wanted to relay as much as I could for anyone who is considering this form of treatment. It's not easy, it IS expensive, and it's something you really have to commit to to get the maximum benefit. But, for me, it seems to be worth it.

I'll keep you all posted on tx #5 - - and feel free to ask any questions you have..... I'll help out however I can!! Good luck to all of you in your quest for better skin! We ALL deserve it!! Patti :)

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Thank you for an exceptionally thorough report! Please keep us informed. -Dan

Hey everyone - I've been reading so many posts and threads on this board with such interest, and wanted to write a quick summary of my very own experiences with Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan (ALA).

Brief history: I'm 37 yrs old, & have been dealing with mild/moderate cystic acne since I was about 22 yrs old. I've been on every oral antibiotic imaginable, almost every topical cream made, Ortho Tricycline, OrthoNovum 777, ProActiv, BP, SA, glycolic cleansers, Mario Badescu products, Erno Laslo sea mud soap.... you know the drill. I could go on and on..... no permanant results. I live in South Florida, and am sure that my skin is worsened somewhat by the humid/hot conditions that I live in..... although, for about 5 yrs I lived in Illinois, up by Chicago, and while the cold helped alleviate the oiliness and breakouts somewhat, I still had problems.... I always had dermatologists for cortisone injections for the whopper cysts, and yes, I've been approached about Accutane - many times. But, seeing as I'm still in my reproductive years, I'm not open to the 2 forms of BC and fear of side effects that accompany Accutane. I've even gone to an endocrinologist to have my hormone levels checked......to which I was told, "they're fine". Ok - so if they're "fine", why am I having "hormonal acne"?!? :boohoo:

So, for a while, I did nothing about my skin. Cleansed with Dial antibacterial soap, moisturized with oilfree Clinique lotion, and my skin was pretty clear. This lasted about 8 months. Then, almost like a "remission" that ended, my skin went nuts. Cysts all along the jawline, hairline, chin, side of the nose, even cheeks - which were never a problem area before.

After much internet research on a particularly bad face day, I found a derm. office here in my area that offers PDT/ALA treatments. The Levulan (ALA - alphalevulanic acid) is an acid that is naturally found in our bodies, that when applied to the face, and super-heated with laser pulsed light, is activated and causes the acid to deeply penetrate the pores and damage the sebaceous gland - to stop overproduction of oil and to HELP kill p. acnes. Cool. Plus, this tx also helps with acetinic keratoses (skin cancers), and wrinkle reduction - - hey! Hit all kinds of birds with ONE stone! :dance:

So, I've had 4 treatments so far, the first one starting on August 29th - - and it hasn't been all roses, I will say. To do it, my derm cleanses my face with Acetone first - to remove any oils or residual makeup - then the Levulan is applied, via a "pen". Then I sit in the waiting area for about 45-50 minutes - to allow penetration/drying of the acid. Then, into the exam room I go again, put on some tanning goggles, and the MD then pulses this super WARM (not really hot) light via a hand held light that's attached to this big machine (like a washing machine!)....he pulsates the light back and forth all across my face starting at the forehead, at the hairline, and goes back and forth all across the face till he gets below the jawline. The light part takes no more than 3-4 mins, and then I'm on my way out - with a hat on and sunglasses... to hole up in my darkened home for about 2 days. The skin feels like a really bad windburn - like when you're on the beach, and it's not quite summer and you don't realize you're getting as much sun/wind as you are - then come inside and take off your sunglasses - - and wow! Tight, RED, swollen, yukk. Burning for a few days - I mean, hot to the touch - ice packs and ibuprofen help but it is uncomfortable.

Then the peeling starts. Small flakes, big pieces, all over. And for me, cysts come up almost immediately. NO ONE told me that my skin would get worse before it got better. I should've guessed, as it's pretty much the norm for ANY new skin treatment - it tends to get worse as all the old under the skin stuff comes up to cleanse out the pores.... but man: I was so discouraged. So not only red, swollen, ugly skin - but hey - new cysts and papules. Dang. And all for the low low price of $400 a pop. Yes, it's NOT cheap. But.......

I've now completed my 4th treatment, as of last Tues. And, so far: **fingers crossed** my skin's turning the corner. :pray: I've only had about 2-3 small cysts come up after the tx, and the old blemishes are drying up nicely - and my skin that's NOT peely looks pretty dang good - if I do say so. I'm feeling better about how this is all going to turn out - - :D It's NOT an easy series of treatments to go through - I think many people go in, have one or maybe 2 treatments, and see what happens to their complexions, and then say HELL NO, AiN'T GOING BACK FOR THAT. But, it really does take perseverance. If you don't pummel the sebaceous glands repeatedly with that acid and superheat to do the damage that's necessary to STOP the cysts from coming back, then you're not going to get the results that you want. It's NOT easy to go back, every 3-4 weeks to have your face literally burned and then, walk around with a swollen, broken out, peely face, but let me tell you - I think it's gonna WORK.

So there you have it. Sorry for the manifesto! But, there's so much to say - - it's been an interesting experience, let me tell you. But I wanted to relay as much as I could for anyone who is considering this form of treatment. It's not easy, it IS expensive, and it's something you really have to commit to to get the maximum benefit. But, for me, it seems to be worth it.

I'll keep you all posted on tx #5 - - and feel free to ask any questions you have..... I'll help out however I can!! Good luck to all of you in your quest for better skin! We ALL deserve it!! Patti :)

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Thanks Dan - I know, I did start out with a "quick summary" in mind..... HA But there's so much to say - and so much that I want people who are considering this treatment - (and I DO have a slight tendency to talk and talk and talk.....just ask my hubby!)

Keep your fingers crossed on this working out for the LONG term!! P.

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Thanks Dan - I know, I did start out with a "quick summary" in mind..... HA But there's so much to say - and so much that I want people who are considering this treatment - (and I DO have a slight tendency to talk and talk and talk.....just ask my hubby!)

Keep your fingers crossed on this working out for the LONG term!! P.

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i just recently had my first treatment...and im on my 4th day and ive broken out really bad with little tiny whiteheads all over my chin...is that normal? Will they go away on there own or what? there so ugly and i just want to pop them...can anyone help me?

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i just recently had my first treatment...and im on my 4th day and ive broken out really bad with little tiny whiteheads all over my chin...is that normal? Will they go away on there own or what? there so ugly and i just want to pop them...can anyone help me?

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I'm so glad that is working for you-that is great news.

I guess I will add my experience to the list. I had 12 photodynamic treatments over the course of a little over a year-same exact procedure as you. I had 8 first and then stopped breaking out but then a couple months later I started breaking out again so I had four more. The breakouts continued until I went to the gynecologist who said I have PCOS so she prescribed me metformin. (I have adverse reactions to birth control) Around the same time my dermatologist switched me to bactrim. I have no idea which of these did the trick but a month later I was completely clear and haven't had breakouts since then. (It's been 4 months which is a long time for me!) I'm hoping it's the metformin doing it because if it's the bactrim it will probably stop working eventually. sucks.

anyway I hope you continue to have good results! I think it is diff. for me because it was mostly my hormones all out of whack causing it....you will probably see good results with the PDL treatments!

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Hi, new to this site and interested in PDT. I have suffered from acne ranging from mild to severe for the last 10 years. I will be getting my first PDT treatment in a few days and am feeling a little anxious. I was under the impression that the redness, swelling, and peeling were mild. I was not prepared for the post stating that ice packs and ibuprofen were necessary!! I was hoping to be able to head back to work after 3-4 days. I am also anxious about the 'it gets worse before it gets better'. I can't even count how many times I have gone through that cycle while using various products. My flare-ups can be so bad that some days all I can do is cry. And avoid mirrors like the plague. I am interested if anybody had good results with this PDT approach. It is quite expensive, especially for me because I live in Hawaii, and will have to fly back and forth to Honolulu. (I live on a rural island that does not offer PDT) I will also post my own experience in hopes that it may help others.

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Hi, new to this site and interested in PDT. I have suffered from acne ranging from mild to severe for the last 10 years. I will be getting my first PDT treatment in a few days and am feeling a little anxious. I was under the impression that the redness, swelling, and peeling were mild. I was not prepared for the post stating that ice packs and ibuprofen were necessary!! I was hoping to be able to head back to work after 3-4 days. I am also anxious about the 'it gets worse before it gets better'. I can't even count how many times I have gone through that cycle while using various products. My flare-ups can be so bad that some days all I can do is cry. And avoid mirrors like the plague. I am interested if anybody had good results with this PDT approach. It is quite expensive, especially for me because I live in Hawaii, and will have to fly back and forth to Honolulu. (I live on a rural island that does not offer PDT) I will also post my own experience in hopes that it may help others.

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Hi MissyPooh:

I really appreciate your discussion. You sound so just like me. I live in Houston, Texas, and you can imagine the heat and humidity that we'all get.

I have tried so many different things too just like you. I have yet to try Accutane due to my health problems.

I have tried a procedure called the Cool Touch Laser, highly recommended for me.

Here's a flash of my skin situation.

I have many large ice pick scars on both of my cheeks area, as a result of many years of cystic acnes appearing on the same spot over and over again. Also, I have reddish and purplish scar that never seems to go away. So when I went to see this lady derm, she recommended me the Cool Touch Laser over all the others (Fraxel, Levulan etc)

I have gone only for two sessions coz I couldn't really afford it. She charged me $250 for each session which includes 2 cheek areas only.

My biggest problem is. It seems that while my relatives and friends sometimes have Cystic Acnes, they tend to go away after a while. Mine stays.

Any type of acnes on my skin, sadly they are mostly CYSTIC. They leave ICE PICK scars, and the Reddish Color Scar.

To make it worse, if the acnes are along any bone areas, like the jaw/chin areas, my Cystic Acnes become hard and they will be KELOIDS. Meaning..the acnes do not flat out, it will be red, lumpy and hard with no head. I have had a derm trying to squeeze out my Keloid Acne near my jaw and they hurt as hell and she swore she could extract the pus out. There is simply no pus. It's just an ugly extra meat, red and bumpy.

I'm cursed with the worst combination anyone can imagine.

My sisters have cystic acnes. But after a few weeks, NO TRACE. maybe a slight very light red marks, but they go away after a while.

My cystic acnes give me 100% Guaranteed Ice Pick Scar, and the Reddish Color.

I'm thankful if they don't progress to the Keloidical Acne.

I wish I can get a new face.

I even have these Acne Keloids on upper back shoulder.

No Cystic Acnes can escape me for some reason.

Any suggestion???

:boohoo:

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