Two out of every three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. If you spent your childhood in Australia, have fair skin, blue or green eyes, fair or reddish hair and have been badly burned in the past, your chances are further increased.
Constant vigilance is the most important factor in preventing skin cancer from developing to a stage where it can threaten your life. Most skin cancers, if caught in the early or developing stages, can be treated successfully.
Technology to Help Your Skin
One of the most recent advances in the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions (as well as acne) is photodynamic therapy (PDT). The goal of PDT is selective tissue destruction: in this case, precancerous and certain types of cancer cells can be destroyed. PDT works by using a drug that becomes activated by light exposure, in turn activating an oxygen molecule that can destroy nearby cells.
Photodynamic therapy takes between 2 and 6 hours, depending on your treatment. It needs to be administered by a highly qualified professional. It has three steps.
The first phase of the treatment involves the application of an exfoliating cream. Then a photosensitising cream is applied to the areas to be treated. During the second and longest phase, the skin is covered while the photosensitising cream penetrates the layers of the skin. This takes between 3 and 5 hours, and the patient must remain in a dimly lit room. This is called the incubation period.
The final step is the actual light treatment, where the target tissue is exposed to the concentrated blue light, or Crystalite, which activates the photosensitising medication. This stage lasts up to 17 minutes. This is not painful, but there can be a ‘burning’ sensation that might be uncomfortable. The burning sensation from this cosmetic surgery process sensation lasts only a few minutes for most patients. All areas of skin not being treated will be covered for protection.
The Immediate Results
After the treatment, the skin will feel warm to hot and will appear as if you have a moderate to severe sunburn. For the first day following the PDT treatment, your skin will feel tight, and you will experience a degree of redness and swelling. You will be able to keep it moist by cleansing it with warm water and applying a gentle softening cream such as vaseline.
Most people experience some skin peeling over the 3 to 7 days after treatment, and then the skin will rejuvenate and heal. It is important to keep the skin protected from any direct light for 48 hours.
Depending on the extent of the damage being treated and the size of the area, several treatments about a month apart may be required.
The Long-Term Results
Photodynamic treatment can help to remove sun-damaged precancerous skin. Patients can also see an improvement in fine lines, blotchy pigmentation and other sun damage. PDT has also been known to offer an effective treatment for acne. It can help reduce oil glands (which contribute to acne), and has been known to improve the appearance of pores and small acne scars. For more information about photodynamic therapy (PDT), please call Brisbane Cosmetic Clinic on (07) 3391 5710.