Photo Dynamic Therapy - PDT

                                                                                                                                           back to home page

“PDT is used to treat acne, age/sun spots, actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous) and

with the new Metvix PDT, superficial basal cell carcinomas can also be treated” 



Metvix approved by Health Canada   article              Information on Metvix Treatments


Age/Sun Spots,  Actinic Keratosis (AK)  & superficial Basal Cell Carcinomas (sBCC)

                                               Manage the Damage caused by sun exposure.


                                                                        Age/Sun Spots   



                                                               Before                        After 

                                                                        Actinic Keratosis



                                             Examples of Actinic Keratosis before treatment


                                      sBCC                                                                      sBCC


                       Before                        After                                    Before                           After


How are sun/age spots, AK’s  and sBCC treated?


Age or sun spots as they are commonly referred to and actinic keratosis (AK's) are rough, dry, scaly, red to brown pigmented patches that develop on the skin from excessive sun exposure. 


They occur most often on sun exposed areas of the skin ie. face, tops of ears, scalp, neck, hands and arms and range in size, texture and depth of color.

AK's have the potential of being precancerous and can develop into superficial basal cell carcinomas (sBCC)  which is why they should be treated early.  If caught early they can be successfully treated and cured.


Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT) is a simple non-invasive procedure used to treat sun spots, AK's and sBCC’s.  It involves application of a photosensitizing solution Metvix (16%  methyl aminolevulinate) to the lesions  as prescribed by Dr. Kirsten. The photosensitizing solution is activated by illumination from an Aktilite  light source (red light, wavelength of 630  nm).  Metvix solution is related to naturally occurring  substances found in the body.  The depth of light penetration into the skin is dependent on the wavelength of the light itself, the longer the wavelength the greater the depth of penetration. To treat sBCC’s that occur deeper in the skin Metvix is required as it is activated with the longer wavelength.


         Aktilite    Watch how Metvix works



How does it work?


Metvix can be applied to either Ak’s  or sBCC’s. The solution is preferentially absorbed by the tumour cells where it accumulates and sensitizes them to red light (by increasing the number of photoactive porphyrins in the cells).   Once the red light is activated the lesions are destroyed by a phototoxic reaction while leaving healthy tissue surrounding the tumour cells relatively undamaged.  This PDT therapy is approved by Health Canada for the treatment of sBCC’s.  It is non-invasive and minimizes the risk of scarring that would occur if the sBCC was to be removed surgically or by cryotherapy.



What to expect during treatment?


Treatment begins with a light microdermabrasion to aid the skin in the absorption of the Metvix.


The Metvix solution stays on the skin for 1.5 to 3 hours to incubate depending on the area(s) treated and the severity of the lesions.   After incubation the area(s) are exposed to Aktilite CL 128 red light for 7-10 minutes. BBL (Broad Band Light) treatment may be used next to help activate  theMetvix and treat pigmentation and vascular irregularities before being exposed to red light for 10-16 minutes.



How much downtime?


Redness and peeling of AK and sBCC sites should resolve after 1-2 weeks.  The skin needs to be protected from sun exposure for 48 hours after treatment.

Skin will be sensitive to sun exposure for up to 6 weeks.



What areas can be treated?


Face, ears, scalp, neck, chest, back, arms, hands, and legs.



How many treatments are required?



Metvix PDT:   2 treatments are required 7 days apart.  After 3 months the lesions  need to be re-evaluated and possibly a second session of 2 treatments maybe necessary.


Maintenance treatments will depend on the recurrence of AK  and sBCC lesions.  A yearly check-up of the effected area is advised.


Cost of the Metvix cream is usually covered by extended health care.


A consultation with Dr. Andre Kirsten will determine whether PhotoDynamic Therapy –PDT would be best prescribed for your concerns. 


        Phone 250-354-2003 to book your confidential appointment.


                                                                          back to top of page

                                                                                                                                      back to home page