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Photodynamic Therapy Treatments in Denver

PDT is a unique therapy that combines a photosensitizing topical medication with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL or IPL Photofacial) and/or BLU-U® natural visible spectrum light. Meant to treat photodamage, actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions), rosacea, and acne. IPL-PDT is the most recommended procedure in our office.

What is Photodynamic Therapy? 

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an advanced therapy that combines a photosensitizing topical medication with IPL and/or BLU-U® light sources to selectively remove damaged skin cells. Denver Dermatology Center offers three types of PDT treatment: 

  • Intense Pulsed Light Photodynamic Therapy (IPL-PDT) with BLU-U®: Treats brown spots, precancerous lesions, red capillaries, facial redness, rosacea, and acne. Also improves tone and texture while stimulating collagen production. Patients experience dramatic results in a single treatment session. This is our number one recommended procedure and can be performed on the face, neck, chest, hands, or forearms.
  • BLU-U® Photodynamic Therapy (BLU-U-PDT) for Photodamage: Effective for the treatment of photodamage and actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions). This procedure uses a topical agent and natural light to reverse sun damage and help prevent the development of skin cancer. It can be used on the face, neck, chest, arms, or hands.
  • BLU-U® Photodynamic Therapy (BLU-U-PDT) for Acne: Treats more severe or recalcitrant forms of acne. This procedure uses a topical agent and natural light to destroy acne-causing bacteria, shrink oil-producing glands, and unclog pores. For optimal results, we recommend a series of 3 to 6 treatments in conjunction with other acne therapy. 
Photodynamic Therapy Benefits

Photodynamic Therapy has the potential to resolve a number of challenging dermatologic concerns. Here are some of its potential benefits: 

  • Rejuvenates photodamaged skin by targeting blotchy pigment change
  • Improves tone and texture, and stimulates collagen production
  • Successfully treats actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions), the dry, scaly, rough-textured patches or lesions caused by years of sun exposure
  • Minimizes red capillaries and facial redness associated with rosacea, severe acne, and years of sun exposure
  • Helps control acne by killing acne-causing bacteria, reducing the size and activity of the sebaceous glands, unclogging pores, and restoring the skin’s integrity
  • Reduces skin oiliness by shrinking oil-producing glands
How does Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) work?

First, the targeted treatment area is cleansed and exfoliated before the medication Levulan® is applied to the skin and allowed to “incubate” for 90 to 120 minutes. The medication can cause some stinging, but this quickly subsides. 

If you are undergoing treatment with IPL, an anesthetic cream will also be applied to your face, and you will be given medications to limit your discomfort. You will then undergo laser treatment followed by BLU-U-PDT treatment. 

For BLU-U-PDT, you will be placed under the BLU-U® light for approximately 5 to 15 minutes. The light causes no pain or discomfort, but you may experience warmth or tingling. A fan may be used to keep you cool during the procedure. After the treatment area is cleansed, sunscreen is applied. 


Following your Photodynamic Therapy at Denver Dermatology Center, you will be asked to remain completely out of the sun for the first 48 hours to avoid burning and to facilitate healing. For the first 3 days following treatment, you may experience mild to moderate redness, swelling, irritation, dryness, or tightness. If you undergo Photodynamic Therapy with IPL, you may also experience mild to moderate swelling. Some patients feel like they have a sunburn. After 2 or 3 days, your skin may begin to peel. The treatment has a recovery time of 5 to 7 days. 

Safety and Risks

Most patients respond well to PDT, with no complications. However, some experience redness, itching, or a mild flare of acne. Our team has the training and experience to properly evaluate your skin, explain potential risks, and administer treatment.