Your treatment will preferably be scheduled as near the end of the day as possible to avoid sunlight following the procedure (more of the why on this later).
You will be prepped with a degreasing solution to remove any oils on the skin. We will apply a photosensitizing solution to the entire affected area and then occlude the skin with plastic film to assist in the penetration of the solution. Prior to the active phase of the treatment, lidocaine will be applied as well to lessen the treatment pain levels and further enhance the treatment effectiveness. This preparation process takes about 1 1/2 hour.
You will then be placed under a special red medical light which “turns on” the solution.
What’s happening during this phase? The red light activates the Levulan, which begins the destruction of the acne bacteria at an upper level while disabling and killing off the larger oil glands responsible for acne cysts and pustules. While the light is on, you will feel a substantial level of heat. This phase lasts from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your acne level. Total treatment time is around 2 hours.
What does it feel like? As heat (burning) sensations can be intense during the time under the light, Dr. Pilest can provide pain medication if desired. You will also have access to a cold air blower (called a Zimmer) to provide additional comfort. Sensations recede once the light is turned off.
Once treatment is complete, the nurse may apply sunblock if there is still light outside and you may elect to use a protective face shield to block UV rays. You may also wish to bring a wide-brimmed hat to provide additional sun protection on your ride home. Post-care instructions will be repeated and given to you to take home.
IMPORTANT! Following the treatment, you will be required to stay indoors for the first 48 hours. Sunlight will reactivate the residual Levulan in the skin and could cause a multiplied effect resulting in undesirable side effects. It is mandatory that you stay indoors, so you will need to make sure there will be no reason for you go outside –not for the mail or the newspaper or any other reason.
Expect swelling, considerable redness, and crusting. You will also likely experience a “flare” of what is termed sterile pustules in the first several days. This is normal, although visually unpleasant. Plan on about 5 days during which you will likely prefer to stay inside as your skin recovers.