Blue Light Therapy
What are Actinic Keratoses (AKs) and why can they be dangerous?
AKs – often called “sun spots”— are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) such as sunlight. They occur most often on sun exposed areas such as the face, scalp or ears, and can range in color from skin toned to reddish brown. They can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter. Common complaints include a lesion that has increased in size or one that is raised, bleeding, non healing, discolored, or associated with discomfort such as pain, sensitivity or itching. Unfortunately, at least 10% of these lesions progress to Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Actinic Keratoses develop as the result of years of sun exposure. Even if you didn’t sun tan much, years of just doing simple tasks outside can add up to a significant amount of sun exposures.
What is Photodynamic Therapy or “Blue Light”?
The treatment uses Levulan, a naturally occurring light sensitizing topical solution, with blue light to treat Actinic (solar) Keratosis. A two- step process with little down time conveniently done in our office, the treatment reduces pre-cancers, potentially reducing the number of skin cancers, and helps in photo-rejuvenation of your skin. A light-sensitizing chemical is applied to your skin that is absorbed into the skin and reacts with a particular wavelength of blue light to generate reactive oxygen radicals that destroy precancerous or cancerous skin cells. Most common side effects are a sunburn like reaction and the skin can be red or peeling. After treatment, it is strongly recommended that you avoid exposure to the sun.
Is Blue Light Therapy covered by insurance and when is a good time to get treated?
Treatment of pre-cancerous lesions with Blue Light is FDA approved and covered by most health insurance policies with prior authorization, which our staff can obtain. There are “off label” benefits as well, as Blue Light has been shown to improve skin quality and reduce sun damage, blotchy pigmentation and acne, by reducing the size of oils glands in the face. In addition, skin texture becomes smoother and pore size is minimized. You will have to avoid extended sun exposure during treatment, so this is an excellent season to get treatment. Please feel free to call us to see if you are a candidate.