DFW Skin Surgery Center
1115 W. Randol Mill Rd
Suite 200
 Arlington, TX 76012
(817) 303-6647 (MOHS)
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DFW Skin Surgery Center, PLLC
1115 W. Randol Mill Road, Suite 200, Arlington, TX 76012
(817) 303-6647 (MOHS)
Fax: (817) 303-6651


©2012-2017 DFW Skin Surgery Center, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Actinic Keratoses and Photodynamic Therapy
Actinic keratosis, also known as a “pre-cancer”, is a skin growth that results from excessive cumulative sun exposure. Lesions are often pink or red and feel rough, like sandpaper. Although the risk of transformation to skin cancer – typically a squamous cell carcinoma – is estimated to be relatively low, presence of multiple or diffuse actinic keratoses significantly increases such risk.

Patients with actinic keratoses require strict sun protection using broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunblocks and sun-protective clothing to try to reduce the number of new lesions and malignant transformation within existing lesions. In addition, existing lesions should be treated with one of several modalities available today. These may include cryosurgery (“freezing”), topical chemotherapeutic agents, and photodynamic therapy (PDT).

Photodynamic therapy is an in-office procedure that utilizes a combination of topical light-sensitizing agent known as aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and light source to activate this agent. PDT is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, most notably actinic keratoses, but also acne, sun damage, and others.

After the chemical is applied to the skin, it is allowed to penetrate into the deeper layers, where it is preferentially picked up by pre-cancerous cells (in actinic keratoses) or oil glands (in the case of acne). Subsequent exposure to light from a light source, such as blue light, activates the chemical and leads to the destruction of pre-cancerous cells (or shrinking of oil glands in the case of acne). Because all pre-cancerous cells and only pre-cancerous cells are destroyed, this treatment is especially effective in cases of diffuse actinic keratoses, affording a so-called “field treatment”.

Though mild to moderate stinging or burning may be experienced during treatment, this therapy is very well tolerated. Mild pinkness or redness akin to a sunburn reaction is common after treatment, often followed by mild peeling for several days. Swelling or crusting may also occur, especially in the presence of large pre-cancerous lesions.

Due to temporary persistence of ALA in the skin, it is critical to avoid direct or indirect sunlight following PDT for at least 24 hours to prevent sunburn. Sun protection with a broad-spectrum sunblock is utilized thereafter.

This procedure is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare, for the treatment of actinic keratoses. However, it is not covered for all other indications, including acne. In such cases, procedure fees will be discussed with you during consultation.

If you would like to find out more about this or any other procedures or would like to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Berlin, please contact our office today or use the form on the right to request more information.