Choosing a photodynamic therapy specialist for dermatological purposes involves a search for the right dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and as such, does not differ from how prospective medical patients would go about finding any physician in any of the medical specialties.
Research Photodynamic Therapy
Patients seeking photodynamic therapy for skin-related issues must become knowledgeable, first and foremost, with the procedure, its risks and its benefits. Once a solid knowledge base is acquired, the patient can weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making an informed decision regarding whether to seek treatment from a specialist.
What the Specialist Must Know
The specialist must know the correct amount of time to leave the topical photosensitizing agent, the aminolevulinic acid (ALA), on the skin before removing the gel and moving on to the second phase, where blue, red or pulse light is administered. The specialist must know the proper balance between the two phases to promote the most beneficial effects in individual patients, thus minimizing the health risks to the candidate.
The dermatologist or plastic surgeon must also take a general history of the patient to discover known allergies and specific prescribed or over-the-counter medications that are being taken. Certain medications enhance the photosensitivity in individual patients, and may cause an adverse reaction.
Referrals from Health Care Providers
Primary health care providers are an excellent source for referrals to any other medical specialist, including specialists for photodynamic therapy purposes. Other reasons to speak with a primary provider include advice on individual candidacy for the procedure and additional individual questions to be asked of the referred specialist.
Referrals from Family, Friends and Colleagues
Family, friends and colleagues who have undergone the procedure, or know of a patient who successfully has, are other excellent resources in the quest to find a photodynamic therapy specialist. Dermatologists with a background of having completed many procedures are typically the best choice.
Online searches provide a large list of candidate dermatologists, and much information is discovered through message boards, websites and blogs written by actual patients who have undergone the therapy. This information can be priceless.