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noellesmama

Photodynamic Therapy & Levulan - all 3 treatments done

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I wanted to write about my experience with PDT. When I was starting my research about this treatment I didn't find a lot of personal experience and that's what I was most interested in... thus the reason I writing about my experienc.

I'll start off with a little background. I'm 35 years old and had my 1st child 15 months ago. I've never had flawless skin but it was something I've been able to keep mostly under control with birth control pill - usually had 1 or 2 pimples on my face at any given time. I've only had two times in my life so far when I've had really bad skin - acne during my first year of university and I used accutane that work wonderfully; and when I went off the pill for a while when I was 26. It's obvious in my case that hormones play a big part in my acne. After I gave birth to my daughter my skin was beautiful for the first few months. I noticed that as I slowly cut back in the amount of breastfeeding I was doing that my skin was progressively getting worse. Finally when I was down to only 1-2 feedings a day I realized that I had painful and unsightly cystic type acne. I've found it devastating on my self esteem and I've had little desire to socialize or even leave my house. I was in constant pain and my face was really beginning to scar.

Finally I came upon the PTD/Levulan treatment. I had a consultation with the Clinic. It went well but I was told that I couldn't start the treatment until after I've finished breastfeeding. On a positive note I also discovered that this treatment was completely covered with extended medical care (in British Columbia, Canada) so I didn't have to pay anything. The actual price was $275/treatment - which I just found out the price has now gone up to $375/treatment.

Three long months after my consultation I finally managed to wean my daughter and made an appointment immediately. I also went to my family doctor and he put me back on the birth control pill - Yasmin. I was nervous about the treatment but optimistic that I was doing something that would help me feel better in the long run. During my first appointment I went into the treatment room. First they washed my face, then cleaned it with Acetone which doesn't hurt at all - just smells really bad. Then they put the Levulan on my face - covering my entire face with it 2 times. It was a bit itchy as it dried but that was it. I sat with it on my face for 30 mins. and didn't feel anything. Then I put on the goggles and went under the blue light for 8 mins. Again I didn't feel anything. After the treatment they washed off the Levulan and then put a creamy sunscreen on. After I got home I still felt nothing and had no redness. After another 24 hours still nothing had happened - not even dry skin. I called the Clinic. They said this isn't normal and they'd look into it. A few days later they had 3 other patients who had no reaction either. Guess what... IT WAS A BAD BATCH!!!! After all that worrying and anxiety it was a bad batch. I had to wait 2 more weeks until they got a new supply of Levulan.

Finally I managed to go again today. Wow, what a different experience. After they put the Levulan on this time I immediately noticed a warm, tingling, slight stinging feeling. I felt like I had a mild sunburn before I even went under the light. When I did go under the light I felt the effects immediately. I wouldn't really say it was painful but it was definitely uncomfortable and I was completely ready to come out after the 8 mins. were up. I was pink and my skin was very sensitive. Since I've been home my skin still feels really, really sensitive and quite pink, although I haven't had the extreme red sunburn reaction I heard others have.

I will continue to update this as I continue through the other 2 treatments. Thanks to all that have gone before me and for sharing their experience so that others could try to make informed decisions.

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18 hours later...

I woke up this morning with my face even a bit more pink/red then it was last night. My face still feels warm to the touch and very tight. My skin is really dry and a bit itchy too.

I'm going to try to include some before and after photos if I can manage it. I can't believe I'm sharing these hideous photos but I'm hoping it will help others out there who are dealing with similar issues. *NOTE: The order of the photos is mixed up... the one on the left is the after photo and the one on the right is the before photo. The before photo was actually taken a week or so before my first treatment. The Treatment 1 photo was taken 18 hours after the treatment.

post-65979-1196185673_thumb.jpg

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48 hours later...

My skin is still pinkish and I can really see the difference where my goggles were - white skin under my eyes and a very definite line of pink where my skin was exposed. My skin isn't feeling as tight today and it doesn't feel warm to the touch anymore. It's a bit crusty where my outbreaks were before the treatment and they are quite red and noticeable. I haven't had any new outbreaks of any kind since the treatment but I'm sure that won't last long. I haven't begun peeling or flaking yet, I guess that will happen over the next few days. Will keep posting my progress regularly.

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48 hours later...

My skin is still pinkish and I can really see the difference where my goggles were - white skin under my eyes and a very definite line of pink where my skin was exposed. My skin isn't feeling as tight today and it doesn't feel warm to the touch anymore. It's a bit crusty where my outbreaks were before the treatment and they are quite red and noticeable. I haven't had any new outbreaks of any kind since the treatment but I'm sure that won't last long. I haven't begun peeling or flaking yet, I guess that will happen over the next few days. Will keep posting my progress regularly.

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Day 3 after treatment...

Well, I would say that I'm almost back to my normal skin colour. My skins is still slightly tight and a little dry but I don't have any peeling. Overall my skin is almost back to looking like normal now. I still haven't had any new breakouts since the treatment but as I said earlier I expect them to start lurking around soon.

I also thought I should mention something about my aftercare. This is the procedure I was told to follow. Absolutely no sun exposure for 48 hours and to keep all the blinds in my house drawn for the full 48 hours - better yet stay in the basement where there are no windows (that's not the case in my house so I didn't do this). Not to put anything on my skin except to wash it morning and night with Cetaphil cleansing lotion. They also gave me a little jar of hydro-cortizone for any places that are cracked and sore (ex. previous blemishes that are having trouble healing after treatment). I was told I could use Cetaphil moisturizing lotion on my face when the peeling started to help sooth it a bit. They recommended absolutely no makeup until all the peeling is done - usually about a week.

In response to WantToBeFree, yes, it is like having a sunburn - at least for the first couple of days. Actually, I didn't think I looked too bad compared to the stories I had heard about. I was pink for sure but I've had worse sunburns than this just from getting too much sun.

Here's a link to my Day 3 photo... (you can see how much red has gone compared to the earlier photo) - wow, I still can't believe I'm letting people see these awful photos:

http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/79/afte...ent1day3xw3.jpg

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"Awful photos"

Either we are there, been there or had worse. You're not only helping your self but you're helping us aswell and for that I sincerely thank you.

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Day 4 after treatment....

Well I can officially say my face is completely back to normal. I don't seem to have dry skin, flaking or peeling - which I'm quite surprised by. Perhaps it's still to come. I've only had 2 pinhead size whiteheads since my treatment - in fact, a almost missed them completely.

On another note I wanted to talk about something else. Perhaps everyone else on this forum is aware of this but it's completely new to me. Recently my husband convinced me to go to a Psychologist because of my growing depression about my face. We are very lucky because we have complete medical coverage so I can seek help without having to pay the high costs. I went to my second session last night and I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD. Here's a quick description I found on the internet - fits me to a T.

"Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder that involves a distorted body image. It is generally diagnosed in those who are extremely critical of their physique or self-image, despite the fact there may be no noticeable disfigurement or defect.

Most people wish they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance, but people suffering from BDD, generally considered of normal appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation at their appearance. They tend to be very secretive and reluctant to seek help because they are afraid others will think them vain or they may feel too embarrassed to do so."

Also included in some of the information I've read about this, the average person who has BDD is: a woman over the age of 34 (I'm 35), a professional, an overachiever, has a history of abuse, and has social anxiety issues - YUP, me to a T again - scary!!!

Anyway, this has been a profound revelation for me and I feel now that it's something that I can overcome. I'm lucky to have a professional to help me through it. It also makes me feel like I'm not just "crazy" but that there's reasons for my self-image issues - and something that is treatable. Again, I'm pouring out my soul hoping that this may help others who are be going through the same thing.

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Thank you very much for sharing that information and for helping those who read these forums. -Dan

Day 4 after treatment....

Well I can officially say my face is completely back to normal. I don't seem to have dry skin, flaking or peeling - which I'm quite surprised by. Perhaps it's still to come. I've only had 2 pinhead size whiteheads since my treatment - in fact, a almost missed them completely.

On another note I wanted to talk about something else. Perhaps everyone else on this forum is aware of this but it's completely new to me. Recently my husband convinced me to go to a Psychologist because of my growing depression about my face. We are very lucky because we have complete medical coverage so I can seek help without having to pay the high costs. I went to my second session last night and I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD. Here's a quick description I found on the internet - fits me to a T.

"Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder that involves a distorted body image. It is generally diagnosed in those who are extremely critical of their physique or self-image, despite the fact there may be no noticeable disfigurement or defect.

Most people wish they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance, but people suffering from BDD, generally considered of normal appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation at their appearance. They tend to be very secretive and reluctant to seek help because they are afraid others will think them vain or they may feel too embarrassed to do so."

Also included in some of the information I've read about this, the average person who has BDD is: a woman over the age of 34 (I'm 35), a professional, an overachiever, has a history of abuse, and has social anxiety issues - YUP, me to a T again - scary!!!

Anyway, this has been a profound revelation for me and I feel now that it's something that I can overcome. I'm lucky to have a professional to help me through it. It also makes me feel like I'm not just "crazy" but that there's reasons for my self-image issues - and something that is treatable. Again, I'm pouring out my soul hoping that this may help others who are be going through the same thing.

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You don't have to worry about those pics being awful around here. In the real world you might want to avoid showing them, but on here you're helping out alot of people by showing your progress.

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Day 5 after treatment...

Yes, as excepted that damn acne has come back and had his way with me, even as I shouted NO, NO, NO. I feel so dirty, so used. OMG, I knew it was coming but I was honestly hoping it would stay away just a while longer. Anyway, I have about 4-6 new spots on my face, 1 big one. Still no peeling, flaking or dry skin. Now 100% back to the way things were before my 1st treatment.

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Day 5 after treatment...

Yes, as excepted that damn acne has come back and had his way with me, even as I shouted NO, NO, NO. I feel so dirty, so used. OMG, I knew it was coming but I was honestly hoping it would stay away just a while longer. Anyway, I have about 4-6 new spots on my face, 1 big one. Still no peeling, flaking or dry skin. Now 100% back to the way things were before my 1st treatment.

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Day 5 after treatment...

Yes, as excepted that damn acne has come back and had his way with me, even as I shouted NO, NO, NO. I feel so dirty, so used. OMG, I knew it was coming but I was honestly hoping it would stay away just a while longer. Anyway, I have about 4-6 new spots on my face, 1 big one. Still no peeling, flaking or dry skin. Now 100% back to the way things were before my 1st treatment.

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1 week later...

Well, my skin does seem a wee bit better now. I never did peel but the quantity and size of my breakouts is reduced. I wanted to mention that I'll be going back for my second treatment in 1 week. I'll post more photos again the 2nd time.

In response to "blacksheiladog"... I had the Levulan on my face for 1 hour and I was under the light for 8 minutes. I'm not sure it was long enough either but they will give me more time next week for sure.

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I'm no doctor, but from what i have read, the longer it is on the face, the more it penetrates, but there is apparently a point at which it makes no more difference. The light time maxes out at 12 min I think. Ask your doctor about it, and I am crossing my fingers for you! Thanks again for reporting. (BTW, blacksheiladog is based on my deceased dog, Sheila--she was with us for 16 years!) -Dan

1 week later...

Well, my skin does seem a wee bit better now. I never did peel but the quantity and size of my breakouts is reduced. I wanted to mention that I'll be going back for my second treatment in 1 week. I'll post more photos again the 2nd time.

In response to "blacksheiladog"... I had the Levulan on my face for 1 hour and I was under the light for 8 minutes. I'm not sure it was long enough either but they will give me more time next week for sure.

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Day 9 after treatment...

Well, my skin is looking much better. It's now much smoother and I don't have any cystic breakouts. I also started using Avene Diacneal - Glycolic Acid 6% and Retinaldehyde C.T. 0.1% - before bed. After reading a bunch of reviews on this product I thought I would give it a go - wow, it does a great job of fading old blemish scars. Here's a link to the reviews if anyone is interested: http://www.makeupalley.com/product/showrev...ene_/Treatments

I'm lucky because I live in Canada and just buy it at the local drug store - $29 for 30 mL tube. I've added a before and after photo link underneath so that you can see the difference its made already. I think between my PDT treatments, Yasmin BCP and Diacneal, my face is starting to really turnaround. Check out the link below and you can see the difference, even in just 1 week - NOTE*: I'm not wearing makeup in any of these photos, this is my skin just after being cleansed with Cetaphil.

http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/7987/af...day39comho4.jpg

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2 weeks after Treatment 1...

I just thought I should post that I'm going for treatment #2 tomorrow afternoon. The Levulan will be on my face for 1.5 hours this time and I'm not sure how long I'll be under the blue light. My face was looking great for about 3 days last week but I've just had another breakout in the past few days. Hopefully this treatment will help. I'll fill you all in after my treatment tomorrow.

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Treatment 2 done...

I had my 2nd second treatment today at noon. It was pretty much the same routine except after the acetone they put on a glycolic acid 20% for 5 minutes. They told me this helps make the Levulan penetrate the skin more deeply. They don't do it the first time because they want to take the process slowly and not overdo things until they see how your skin reacts. I had the Levulan on for 1 hour this time (this mistakenly had told me 1.5 hours earlier). Then I was under the blue light for 11 mins. Overall it felt pretty much the same as last time... not hurting but definitely uncomfortable. My face is quite pink again this time but not bright red as I keep expecting. It's also quite tender and a little swollen but nothing scary, just enough to smooth out my skin... come to think of it, it looks pretty good if you overlook the bright pink/red tinge. They also recommended that I start using the glycolic acid once a week as a mini peel. A box of 50 glycolic acid 20% pads were $40 but will last through the year. They also gave me a tube of 10% Benzol Peroxide - $17. Now I just have to keep all these products straight, what to use at what time of day (I also have a bunch of products from my initial visit - Vivier Acne kit). Good thing these procedures are covered because all these products are starting to add up. Here's the link to my before and after photo from today...

http://img338.imageshack.us/img338/6325/af...2samedayen4.jpg

Oh, I also wanted to mention that the doctor told me that it takes 30 - 40 days before you see any results from this treatment - that's how long it takes for your collagen to regenerate ... just something everyone should know.

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Day 1 after Treatment 2...

Yes, I definitely look like I have a painful sunburn this morning. I think it's more red then it was last night. It still feels hot and tight and is especially red under my eyes and on my cheeks. This treatment definitely penetrated my skin more deeply and I have more of a reaction then I did last time. But I'm happy because that means the process is working as it should. I'll keep updating over the next few days.

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Hi

I am really interested in the PDT because my doctor advised me to go trough it. However, it is pretty expensive where I am from and I am a little skeptical on the results. My main concern are the scars that I have on the sides of my nose. As for my acne, it is moderate but still exists. I personally don't care much for my acne but the doctor said that in order to try to diminish the scars it was necessary to get completely rid of the acne so he recommended PDT (which is supposed to have some effect on the scars as well).

So, is it really worth it? Do you have experienced some real progress with your acne or with the scars? I am really interested in knowing any of your results because I don't want to waste my money on something useless!

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Day 3 after treatment 2...

My skin is pretty much back to normal again. I'm still having some breakouts but mainly the ones that were starting before I went into the second treatment. I used the DCL glycolic acid 20% pads last night. It did a great job of exfoliating the dry, dead skin that's starting to flake off. My skin felt so smooth after using them. My good friend is a naturopathic doctor and she gave me some gel to try called Viva Amaze Gel. OMG, the stuff is great - you put it on your skin and as you gently rub it in, all the dead skin cells on your face ball up and slough off your face. This is a Canadian product and I'm not sure if it sells in the U.S. but I love it already.

So, is it really worth it? Do you have experienced some real progress with your acne or with the scars? I am really interested in knowing any of your results because I don't want to waste my money on something useless!
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1 week after treatment 2...

My skin is back to its old tricks again. I have some pretty big breakouts at the moment. I didn't have the mass shedding as I heard others but rather mild flaking again - around my mouth mostly. Still overall no improvement yet, but I will try to wait patiently. I will be going for my 3rd and final treatment at the start of January.

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36 days after treatment 1, 22 days after treatment 2...

My skin is finally starting to look great now. It's been over a week since I've had any breakouts and now the only blemishes on my skin are the left over hyperpigmentation marks from the previous outbreaks. My skin is much smoother and less oily. The texture of my skin is more refined. I'm so pleased with the results now. I go in for treatment number 3 in 6 days. I'll continue my update then. Photo below was taken this morning with no makeup.

http://http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/...ayslaterkx9.jpg

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