My insurance company and I went dutch at my dermatologist’s office this morning on a little combo of acid cream and a Guantanamo-intensity light treatment. And, yeeooooowwwwww!
From the website: “Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl) for Topical Solution, 20% (Levulan Kerastick) plus blue light illumination using the BLU-U® Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator (Levulan PDT) is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratosis of the face or scalp. Actinic keratoses (AKs) are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin that can lead to skin cancer. It is important to treat AKs because there is no way to tell when or which lesions will progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer. So, now’s the time to manage your damage!”
The exclamation point on the end of that sentence sure does lend a jaunty feel to the whole procedure, doesn’t it? So c’mon down and get your light therapy today!
Beats many alternatives.
I had Mohs surgery on a basal cell lesion last summer, and a friend’s mom died of cancer that started with squamous cell carcinoma on her left temple, so I was open to the treatment. Sounded like a good idea, more effective than cryo. I’d read it might “sting a little,” and that I’d have to stay out of the sunlight for a couple days.
The dermatologist had prepared me, joking (I thought): “Men usually can’t tolerate it very long, but women do fine.” RIGHT!
Of the four minutes the light treatment is supposed to last, I cried uncle! after only 60 seconds. Look how RED my face is up top there! Imagine if I had been able to tolerate all four minutes!?!?!!! My face might would’ve melted right on off the front of my skull! Somehow I only released a “shit!” and kept a lid on the F, most likely thanks to the Rend Collective song blaring in my earbuds.
As I sat there freed from the light panel, reeling from the searing pain a, my whole body shaking, face torched and sizzling deep, the doctor changed her story. “I’m tough,” I told her. “I can tolerate pain,” I told her. “I know,” she said, then proceeded to tell me about a recent patient who’d had breast cancer, and after this treatment the patient said, “I’ll take breast cancer instead, thank you very much.”
I’ve had babies, I’ve had a heart attack. I’ll take either of those types of pain over this torture. I was supposed to do my chest lesions after the face was finished; I changed my mind. I just needed to rinse that cream off my face, cool down the fire with cold water, and LEAVE. I drove home, masked and hooded, and have been holed up in my dark bedroom since. A sunny, snowy day is my enemy.
And the crazy thing?! People ELECT to endure this procedure—at full retail!—for cosmetic reasons. A price for beauty, my backside.
Two hours later the redness is beginning to fade to a Florida spring break glow (lower right), but my mug’s still a’sizzlin under the surface. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.
But I’ll be back to treat my chest, I’ve decided, with more PDT. I can take it. It’s for the kids.
Addendum: Ha! Just found this comment on MedicineNet. I feel so validated!