Most of our patients at ICLS are smart about protecting their skin from the damaging rays of the sun; they wear sunscreen and/or physical sunblocks, wear protective clothing, stay in the shade, and avoid peak UV hours. Preventing new sun damage is important in maintaining youthful, healthy skin for years to come. However, lots of the sun damage that we see in our patients actually occurred when they were younger, from many years of laying or working out in the sun without any kind of sun protection.
In particular, many of our patients have begun to notice scaly, red, flaky lesions on their faces, scalps, and the backs of their hands. These are known as Actinic Keratosis, and are an early sign of pre-skin cancer. These tiny lesions are often described by patients as red, dry patches that do not heal.
When patients have only a few of these scaly lesions, we can spray them with liquid nitrogen to “freeze” them. This procedure is often a bit uncomfortable for patients, and causes the lesions to blister and fall off. However, when an entire “field” is covered in these lesions (i.e. a full scalp, an entire face, or both), use of liquid nitrogen may not be practical. For these patients, Dr. Sapra is now suggesting Daylight Metvix.
During a Daylight Metvix procedure, a prescription cream called Metvix is applied over the patient’s entire face, scalp, or both. Once applied, this cream infiltrates any damaged skin cells, making them very sensitive to light. After allowing the cream to soak in for thirty minutes, the patient sits outside in the natural sunlight for roughly three hours. During this exposure to natural light, any damaged cells are destroyed.
The procedure itself is painless for patients, and many find it is an excellent time to read, garden go for a walk, or just relax! At the end of the three hours, patients wash the area very well with gentle soap and water. Over the next few days, patients can expect a “gentle” reaction that may feel like a sunburn. In some instances, patients have a “brisk reaction,” and may develop small crusty areas. All patients will be very sun-sensitive for about 48 hours following the treatment. For best results, the treatment is repeated again in two weeks, and then once a year for maintenance of more youthful skin, free of actinic keratosis.
There are many benefits to using Daylight Metvix, when compared to other treatment options. First, it is virtually painless for patients, and usually results in very little downtime. Second, the cosmetic results are amazing, and there is no risk of scarring. Also, the Metvix cream is fully covered by most private insurance companies. Finally, treatment with Daylight Metvix has a great track record with reoccurrence: many patients find that, with regular use of sun protection, one maintenance treatment a year is enough to keep old and new sun damage away.
When you see Dr. Sapra for your next annual skin check, he will closely examine your skin for the presence of any actinic keratosis. If Dr. Sapra believes you will benefit from Daylight Metvix, one of our highly trained Dermatology Nurse’s will be happy to explain the entire procedure in full details to you.