Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

A patient receives photodynamic therapy

What is Photodynamic Therapy?

Metvix red light activated Photodynamic Therapy is an effective non-surgical method for the treatment of actinic keratoses (sunspots) and certain superficial skin cancers (such as superficial basal cell cancers and early squamous cell cancers) with very short downtime.

It involves the application of a special cream – Metvix (Methyl aminolevulinate – MAL) – to the targeted lesions by the doctor after carefully cleansing the skin. The cream is left to be absorbed selectively by the abnormal pre-cancerous or cancerous cells for a period of 3 hours. This is then followed by red light activation of the cream using our Healite II machine for about 15 mins. This results in a reaction at a cellular level that destroys the pre-cancerous or cancerous cells whilst leaving your normal skin unaffected.

What are the side effects?

Side effects including pain during light activation phase of the treatment is to be expected – this varies significantly from person to person. This may feel like a burning, stinging sensation to the area being treated. The pain immediately improves once the red light activation phase is completed and the pain does not usually last for more than 12 hours.

Other common side effects include redness, swelling, blistering, weeping and scabbing to the treated area, which usually improves fairly rapidly after a 3-4 days following treatment. It is important to avoid direct sun exposure to the treated area for at least 48 hours afterwards. The recovery can also be made quicker by the use of our yellow healing light therapy.

The cream used for PDT treatment contains almond and peanut oil therefore is unsuitable for people with almond or peanut allergy. It is also not suitable for pregnant/ breastfeeding women or if you suffer from epilepsy/ porphyria/ lupus erythematosus. This will be checked and discussed with you by your treating doctor prior to your treatment.

Our Team

Dr Emily MacDonald
Dr MacDonald has an interest in the management of skin cancer and obtained her Professional Certificate in Skin Cancer M...
Dr Emily MacDonald