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Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used for the treatment of both acne and actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous red rough skin lesions). It has also been known to treat rosacea. Photodynamic therapy involves three steps: a topical solution of aminolevulanic acid (ALA) also known as Levulan, is applied to the area to be treated, the solution is left on the skin for about an hour to incubate, and then a light or laser source is applied to the skin to activate the Levulan.

ALA occurs naturally in our bodies and so is easily absorbed into the skin. At the Toronto Acne & Rosacea Centre, we use BBL (Broad Band Light) as our light source. Since ALA causes the skin to be extremely photo sensitive, the addition of BBL to the skin acts as a catalyst to activate the solution and releases singlet oxygen which targets P. acnes bacteria and reduces oil production. Surrounding normal cells receive minimal damage.

Photodynamic therapy is a non-invasive treatment with minimal downtime. It can involve 2-6 treatments depending on the severity of the condition. Treatments are usually performed 2-4 weeks apart, depending on what condition is being addressed. Maintenance treatments may be required.

The benefits of photodynamic therapy with BBL not only addresses the immediate concern for the patient (e.g. acne), but also helps with sun damage, collagen stimulation, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing broken blood vessels and sun freckles, and general overall tone and texture of the skin.

Who should not use Levulan?

Levulan is not recommended for patients who have a skin photosensitivity such as lupus, porphyria or sun allergy. It is important to tell your doctor or skin care specialist if you are taking oral medications (e.g. accutane, soriatane, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, lasix, NSAIDs, hydrochlorothiazide) or using topical prescription or non-prescription products. Levulan is not recommended for pregnant or nursing females.

What are the possible side effects?

Most common side effects are : scaling/ crusting, temporary hypo/ hyper pigmentation, itching, stinging, redness and mild swelling. Peeling will most commonly occur about three days after treatment. Skin may feel dyhydrated and sensitive. At Toronto Acne & Rosacea Centre, we suggest products that will help you through the first few days of discomfort.

What precautions should I take?

Avoid sun exposure for at least 48 hours after treatment. Avoidance is best, and hat/sunglasses are the next best option. A medical grade sunscreen or preferably sunblock should be worn during this time.

How do I know if this is the right treatment for me?

At Toronto Acne & Rosacea Centre, consultations are complimentary with one of our medically supervised skin care experts. If you have acne or rosacea, book a consultation to see if this is the right treatment for you. All your questions and concerns will be addressed, and any additional information can be obtained at that time.

Photodynamic Therapy for Acne:


Call 416-633-0001 or email us today for an acne consultation. Toronto Acne & Rosacea Centre is located at 4256 Bathurst St., Suite 400 (Bathurst & Sheppard) within Toronto Dermatology Centre in Toronto, Ontario, and serves patients in North York, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughan, York, Aurora, King City, Mississauga, Oakville, Etobicoke, Scarborough, Bramptom, Newmarket, Maple, Cambridge, Pickering, Ajax, downtown, uptown, midtown, and all of Greater Toronto (GTA)

Dr. Benjamin Barankin and Dr. Anatoli Freiman are dermatologists at Toronto Acne & Rosacea Centre, providing complete medical, cosmetic, surgical and laser skin care. Our acne centre provides a variety of physician-grade skin care products, prescription creams and gels, prescription pills for acne, as well as a variety of services that treat acne and prevent acne such as: facials, oxygen facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion (medical-grade, SilkPeel DermalInfusion), BBL / IPL (photorejuventation), photodynamic therapy, and acne scar removal such as by subcision, TCA CROSS, fillers, excisions, and laser resurfacing using the ProFractional laser. Our physician-grade skin products include: Dermamelan, SkinCeuticals, SkinMedica, ZO Skin Health, ZO Medical, Jane Iredale, Elta MD & Latisse.

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Please call: (416) 633-0001
Or visit us at: 4256 Bathurst St, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M3H 5Y8