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Less pain – better gain, with new PDT tech

Less painful treatment of sunspots and some skin cancers is now available in Hawke’s Bay, with the arrival of the latest German photodynamic therapy (PDT) technology.

The MultiLite arrived at Dermatology Hawke’s Bay last month and the first patients have undergone treatment.

Hawke’s Bay specialist dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon Dr Juber Hafiji said the technology enabled rapid treatment – about 35 minutes depending on the condition being treated – with much less pain.

“Using light combined with photosensitising cream to treat some skin conditions is not new, but the latest technology has dramatically improved the process for patients. Up until now, treatments have involved patients wearing cream in natural daylight for up to two hours, or undergoing very painful red light therapy.

“The feedback we have had from patients to date is excellent. Some have undergone this type of treatment before and are impressed that, compared to other options, this treatment is much more comfortable for them.”

A key difference between the old and new technology is the ‘stepping through’ of three lights in the new version. Older technologies have just one red light, immediately penetrating deep into the skin, hence the pain.

The MultiLite has three phases: blue light (short depth into skin), yellow light (medium depth), red light (long depth). “This is very much kinder to the patient.”

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses oxygen and light combined with special cream to create a reaction that destroys abnormal cells, and is typically used to treat sun spots (actinic keratoses) and some superficial skin cancers – both conditions very common especially in the over-50 age bracket.

It is a treatment that can, depending on the patient and condition, be used instead of cryotherapy (freezing), which is painful and can result in permanent white marks, or chemotherapy creams, which patients have to apply themselves over a number of weeks and the inflamed skin can take some time to settle down.  It can be a good alternative to surgery for some pre-cancerous growths and superficial basal skin cancers shortening treatment and recovery times.

One of its many benefits is that there is minimal scarring, as can occur with other treatment options.

The new technology can also be used to treat other skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, given the therapy has anti-inflammatory properties, and for cosmetic photo-rejuvenation.