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Actinic Keratosis – Information & Treatment

 

Actinic Keratosis – Information & Treatment

Actinic Keratosis two days after a freezing removal treatment

What Is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis (AK) is a premalignant epidermal condition caused by chronic exposure to the sun and its UV radiation. These skin lesions can be cosmetically unappealing and can reduce the quality of life of those who suffer from them, and if left untreated, have up to a 20% chance of developing into skin cancer, and are therefore considered a pre-cancer. However, with the right treatment, AK can be removed from the skin, safely and effectively.

What Does AK Look Like?

This condition consists of scaly or crusty patches or bumps on the skin and develops most commonlye on the areas of the body that see the most sun, the face, scalp, hands, arms, and legs. Patches of AK are typically 2 to 6 mm in size and can be tan, pink, red, gray, light, dark, or a combination of all of the above. Over time they can become hard and wart-like. These skin lesions can feel itchy, tender, and cause discomfort, especially after prolonged exposure to the sun. Patches may disappear, only to return a short time later.

Who Can Get AK?

AK is one of the most commonly diagnosed lesions by dermatologists, with an estimated 60% of predisposed individuals over the age of 40 years old, possessing at least one AK on their body. Those with lighter skin are more likely to develop these skin lesions, and the risk of developing AK increases with age. It is not a contagious condition, nor hereditary in nature.

How Can We Treat AK at LightTouch?

Here at LightTouch Med Spa, our nurses can treat AK with a drug known as Levulan Kerastick, in combination with our Blue Light IPL treatments. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photorejuvenation treatments work to kill bacteria in the skin and become more effective when combined with this topical drug.

How Does This Treatment Work?

There are two steps needed to complete the treatment of AK. First, Levulan Kerastick is a topical solution that will be applied to your actinic keratosis lesion. It is made up of Aminolevulinic acid, and when the medication enters the AK cells, it makes them highly sensitive to light.

Once this solution has been applied to the affected area, you are free to go home, and in 14 to 18 hours, you will return to our clinic for the second part of the treatment. Between these steps, it is essential to keep your affected skin out of direct sunlight, or harsh indoor lightings such as examination lamps and unshaded light bulbs.

Upon your return, one of our nurses will rinse the AK lesions with water and perform the required light therapy by applying blue light onto the skin where the Levulan Kerastick had previously been administered. To protect your eyes, you will be given protective goggles to wear during treatment. This blue light destroys bacteria within the follicles and pores beneath the skin, therefore ridding the body of actinic keratosis.

Is This Treatment Safe?

Our IPL and blue light treatments are a non-invasive way to treat AK. IPL has safely been performed in Canada for over 20 years, and has FDA and Health Canada approval, offering our clients a safe way to treat actinic keratosis.

What After-Care Is Needed?

There is minimal downtime and discomfort associated with this treatment. In the days following your procedure, your skin can feel warm or tight, possessing a red tone, but this will diminish shortly afterwards. You will be advised to keep your treated areas out of the sun, and harsh artificial lighting, between the two treatment steps, as well as 40 hours post procedure.

As AK first develops due to prolonged sun exposure, it is essential to protect yourself from further skin lesions by staying out of direct sunlight and wearing sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors.

What Side Effects Can Happen?

Local reactions to this treatment include crusting, itching, pain or tenderness, peeling, redness, stinging, tingling or burning, or swelling. Most of these adverse effects are rare, but if they do occur, it is vital to seek medical attention right away.

Who Should Not Undergo This Treatment?

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not receive this treatment. Those who are allergic to aminolevulinic acid, porphyrins, or any ingredients contained within the Levulan Kerastick medication should also forego this procedure. If you have porphyria, a group of conditions that results in the accumulation of porphyrins, or if your skin is sensitive to light at wavelengths of 400 nm to 450 nm, then you should not undergo this treatment.

How Will I know If This Treatment Is Right For Me?

At LightTouch Med Spa, our clients’ safety and comfort is our number one concern, that’s why we offer a free consultation for all potential patients. By visiting one of our world-class facilities, you will sit down with one of our knowledgeable nurses, as they discuss the treatment approach, and find the best way to help you get rid of your actinic keratosis. They will also perform a complimentary skin analysis to further understand what care you need, and provide it accordingly. They will also explain the pre and post-treatment care to make sure you are well taken care of before, during, and after your procedure at LightTouch.

Call our booking center at 1-888-954-2667, or email us at info@lighttouchlaserclinic.com. We look forward to seeing you soon!