Early detection and treatment of pre-cancerous skin lesions are critical for skin cancer prevention. We encourage all of our Marina Del Rey patients to undergo regular skin exams so that our dermatologist can detect any abnormal skin growths as early possible, as early treatment increases the likelihood of a complete cure. At Marina Dermatology, we have a number of methods available to treat actinic keratosis and other pre-cancerous skin lesions. One of the most effective and easy treatments available today is Levulan® photodynamic therapy, which we routinely use to treat actinic keratosis.
Actinic keratosis is a very common skin growth that is seen in nearly half of the global population. Actinic keratosis tends to be more common in fair skinned people who have blonde or red hair and blue, green, or grey eyes. This condition is also referred to as solar keratosis or senile keratosis, as it is seen more often in individuals who are frequently exposed to the sun and tends to appear in older people. People living in the Los Angeles area who spend a lot of time in the sun without adequate protection have a higher risk of developing actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis lesions usually develop on areas of skin that receive constant sun exposure and typically first appear as a patch of flat, dry, scaly skin. As the lesion progresses, the skin may thicken and develop into a tough growth that resembles a wart.
Actinic keratosis is part of a group of skin conditions that are considered pre-cancerous. There is a 20% chance of actinic keratosis developing into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is highly treatable if detected early, but can spread to other parts of the body and become a serious problem without medical intervention. As such, our Doctor recommends that individuals with actinic keratosis undergo treatment to remove these growths so they do not have the opportunity to develop into skin cancer.
Levulan was approved by the FDA for the treatment of actinic keratosis in 1999. At Marina Dermatology, we have experienced great success in treating actinic keratosis with Levulan photodynamic therapy. During a treatment session, Levulan is applied directly to the lesions and left to soak into the skin for 6 hours. After this, the skin will be treated with blue light for 15 minutes. Levulan works as an activator for the blue light by making the lesions sensitive to light, which then causes cell death in the treated areas. The light will not damage the skin because only the Levulan-treated lesions will be sensitive to the blue light. After the treatment, patients must avoid bright sunshine for at least 40 hours. They may also need to avoid certain medications and exposure to hot environments, such as a steam room or hot shower. Before administering a Levulan treatment, our Cosmetic Dermatologist ensures that his patients fully understand all post-treatment requirements. There are very few side effects associated with Levulan photodynamic treatment and it is extremely effective in eliminating the lesions. As such, Levulan has become one of our most recommended treatments for actinic keratosis.
If you have noticed a change in your skin recently, we encourage you to make an appointment at one of our LA offices. The best treatment for skin cancer is early detection and prevention. Even if you have not observed any changes in your skin, it is important to undergo regular skin exams so that any pre-cancerous growths can be detected and treated. It is also a great opportunity to learn how to properly protect your skin from the sun so you can enjoy healthy, beautiful skin for years to come.