Photodynamic Therapy and IPL or intense pulsed light are nearly identical procedures.
Photodynamic Therapy or PDT is akin to a supercharged version of IPL.
PDT a chemical is applied to the skin that increases the sensitivity of the skin to light. After this chemical soaks into the skin for about one hour, a light source is used on the skin similar to IPL. The skin turns bright red, like a sunburn for 2/3 days after PDT. There may be some peeling. PDT is very effective in treating pre cancerous lesions on the skin, spider veins and brown spots. The results after PDT are often more dramatic than the results after IPL alone.
IPL employs a low focused, broad spectrum light applied to the surface of the skin that helps to remove red and brown imperfections from the skin such as spider veins and age spots and smooth fine lines. The downtime from IPL is generally minimal and most patients return to work right away. IPL is often performed in a series of treatments. IPL is quite efficacious for reduction of pigmentation and redness.
IPL involves minimal downtime whereas PDT can have up to 7 days of red, scaly changes depending on the aggressiveness of the protocol.
PDT is indicated by the FDA for actinic keratoses. IPL alone is not all that helpful for acne whereas series of 4 PDT's, 4 weeks apart can help to shrink oil glands, minimize colonies of bacteria responsible for acne and make conventional acne therapy work even better.
If expense and downtime are of minimal concern, PDT can be combined with IPL under the supervision of experienced board-certified dermatologists to achieve significant rejuvenation and reduction of sun damage.