Potential Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy

For some who are interested in changing the appearance of skin areas on their face or body, Photodynamic Therapy might be an interesting new method that is potentially applicable to their cosmetic dermatology goals. Although Photodynamic Therapy is more commonly known as an anti-cancer treatment, some doctors and scientists are looking at it as a potential fix for some skin conditions that are not serious health concerns. As patients keep looking for ways to rejuvenate their skin through eliminating wrinkles, changing tone and texture, and building firm sub-dermal tissues, doctors are wondering if Photodynamic Therapy might provide a key part of treatment for some of these patients.

Using Photodynamic Therapy

According to some medical experts, Photodynamic Therapy is a relatively easy medical treatment. As a nonsurgical approach to cosmetic dermatology, it does not typically involve long recovery times, severe side effects or extreme discomfort. In Photodynamic Therapy procedures, doctors use light in the form of fiber-optic catheters that get inserted under the skin. The use of light and oxygen, in tandem with photosensitizers, can produce specific body responses in patients that scientists are thinking might trigger rejuvenating elements of the skin. Specifically, scientists are looking at how Photodynamic Therapy might be used to reduce and deal with skin conditions like psoriasis, as well as acne scarring or non-cancerous sun damage.

Although doctors providing this treatment point out that Photodynamic Therapy is not known to have some of the major side effects associated with other procedures, some side effects do apply to this kind of treatment. Here are some of the side effects that experts report for patients using Photodynamic Therapy.

Skin Discoloration

As with other energy treatments, some patients can experience discoloration of the skin. Changes in pigmentation or “hyperpigmentation” can go away on their own or be more persistent. Some can be permanent. Talk to your doctor about the real risks of pigmentation changes with Photodynamic Therapy.

Redness of the Skin

Redness or tenderness in the affected area is a somewhat normal consequence of Photodynamic Therapy. Ask about whether this symptom requires follow up care.


Swelling or bruising may occur with Photodynamic Therapy. The risks for these minor side effects are different for every patient, according to a wide variety of factors.

Drug Allergies

Some patients may be allergic to some of the drugs or materials used in Photodynamic Therapy. Provide doctors with a list of known allergies before starting a Photodynamic Therapy regimen to be sure to avoid this kind of medical reaction.

Light Sensitivity Reactions

Some patients are also more sensitive to light. This should be a medical issue with Photodynamic Therapy, since it utilizes the principle of photosensitivity.


Photodynamic Therapy is not widely known to cause scarring, but some patients with scarring issues should talk about the risks of this side effect with doctors as well.

These and other side effects apply to Photodynamic Therapy and related therapies that doctors may propose for patients looking for dermatology treatments. Always consult with your medical provider at length before going ahead with this or any other kind of medical care.

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