Actinic Keratosis (AK) is a skin condition that results from chronic and prolonged sun exposure. Most commonly found in fair-skinned people, these precancerous skin lesions are often small, rough spots usually occurring on the face, scalp, neck, and chest. Left untreated, a small percent could progress to Squamous Cell Skin Cancer. Qualified skin care doctors and dermatologists can often make the diagnosis of AK with a simple examination but if in question, the lesion will be biopsied.
Lentigines, “liver spots or age spots“, on the other hand are harmless, flat brown lesions on the skin that occur as a result of over exposure to the sun. They normally don’t occur until after the age of 40.
Cosmetically, both of these conditions are a nuisance. The best treatment is prevention. This includes minimizing sun exposure, applying sunscreen regularly and using a topical antioxidant. However, by the time sun-overexposure has left blotchy pigmentation, wrinkling and skin roughness, preventative measures will be ineffective. Certain cosmetic laser treatments are recommended for treating these skin imperfections.
PDT Laser Treatments for Sun Damage
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an FDA-approved, safe and effective method for the treatment of a variety of skin conditions, particularly the precancerous condition of actinic keratosis and a great treatment for brown spots on the face. Therapy includes the use of a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan, which is activated by laser light. The process is simple and virtually painless.
First, the affected area will be thoroughly cleansed and then the Levulan liquid will be topically applied. The medication is allowed to dry (incubate) for 60 – 90 minutes and following this, a laser with the correct light wavelength is used to activate the Levulan. After this activation, the treatment area is cleansed again and sun block is applied. Sun avoidance is mandatory for 24 hours after treatment. The process of PDT results in the destruction of abnormal skin cells (AK’s) decreased skin redness and reduction of brownish skin discolorations.
Laser Resurfacing Sun Damaged Skin
Because the wavelength of light of Erbium Laser is not as long as that of CO2 and because there is more control during treatment, Erbium laser skin resurfacing is much safer, has less downtime and offers pain-free recovery as compared to resurfacing with the CO2 laser. Furthermore, by using the Erbium laser in a fractionated mode, there is less post-procedure swelling and redness and the recovery time is quickened, usually being only 24 hours. Of equal importance, for those having darker skin tones, the erbium laser poses much less risk of skin lightening or hypopigmentation.
Both PDT and fractional laser skin resurfacing offer dramatic improvement of dull, rough unevenly-colored skin and leave skin smoother and with a more youthful appearance.
Dr. Alice Cohen’s skin care center in Lancaster, PA utilizes Photodynamic Therapy with Levulan to treat a full range of skin care conditions such as actinic keratosis, rosacea, acne, hyperpigmentation, and sun spots. Dr. Cohen is highly skilled and offers individualized skin care treatment plans. If your skin is experiencing the ravages of too much sun, acne or Rosacea, let us help. Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Cohen today.