Pioneer Health Albany is excited to announce the opening of our new phototherapy unit. This is the first phototherapy unit to operate in Albany, bringing the important treatment modality of UV light therapy to patients in the Great Southern.

What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy, is also called light therapy, and involves exposing skin to a special light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. This is a safe, effective and convenient treatment for a variety of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

The light used in phototherapy is ultraviolet B or “UVB” light, and this light is also present in natural sunlight. Whilst there are various UV phototherapies, the light therapy offered at Pioneer Health is referred to a “narrow-band UVB”. This is the most commonly used light therapy, and refers to light in a small range of the ultraviolet light spectrum. Narrow-band UVB has been shown to be particularly effective in clearing skin conditions such as psoriasis and producing remissions. It is important to note that indoor tanning beds are NOT a substitute for phototherapy performed with a prescription and under a doctor’s supervision. Pioneer Health Albany does not support the use of indoor tanning as this does not provide the type of light that most effectively treats psoriasis and raises the risk of melanoma.

Who can benefit from phototherapy?

Phototherapy is well established and effective treatment for a range of skin conditions. Narrow-band UVB therapy is particularly effective for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. Phototherapy is usually considered for psoriasis patients who have at least 10% of body surface area involvement. Most psoriasis patients will respond to UVB therapy and up to 100% of clearance can be achieved with this treatment. Many psoriasis patients find that phototherapy puts their skin in a “remission” or “quiet” state long after the end of the treatment.

Phototherapy is also effective treatment for eczema, vitiligo and a number of other skin conditions.

What should I expect with phototherapy?

During your visit you will stand in the light cabinet undressed, except for underwear and protective goggles.

To be effective, phototherapy generally requires 2 to 3 treatments per week at the practice. Treatments are typically brief. The light machine will usually be activated for seconds or minutes only, and will treat the entire body or certain exposed areas only. Careful records are kept of your response and the light is slowly increased with each treatment.

A typical phototherapy course for psoriasis consists of 20 to 30 treatments, and will thus take 7 to 10 weeks. Phototherapy will be provided at convenient times for patients, such as first thing in the morning before work. In order for allow for an effective photo therapy course, it’s important that patients commit to an uninterrupted treatment course. (Patients who miss treatments will need to have UVB light doses reduced, or may be asked to start their treatment cycle over from the beginning.)

Please note that response to treatment is not rapid. Several weeks of steady treatment are required to see improvements.

Like any medical treatment there are potential risks to phototherapy. These risks will be discussed with you at the time of your initial assessment.  Eye protection must be worn with every treatment t prevent damage to the eyes (this will be provided by the practice).

How can I access phototherapy?

If you wish to consider phototherapy, or have been referred for phototherapy, we encourage you to make an appointment at Pioneer Health Albany or Albany Skin Clinic. The doctors who will be providing phototherapy are Dr David Tadj, Dr James Turner, Dr John Rowlands and Dr Jonathan Ramachenderan. You will have an initial assessment of your skin condition and other past health complaints. The doctor will establish whether phototherapy will be suitable and safe treatment for you. The doctor will then provide you with a personalised phototherapy prescription, taking into account your skin type. You will receive detailed information and instructions about your phototherapy, including scheduling and potential adverse effects, before commencing your treatment.

What does phototherapy cost?

To access phototherapy you will need to be initially assessed by one of our doctors at the practice. This visit will be billed as longer consult (level C or D). Once you have been provided with a phototherapy prescription by the doctor, you will be asked to pay a phototherapy induction fee of $120, before you start your photo therapy course. Your regular phototherapy attendances at the practice will be bulkbilled provided that you have a valid Medicare card. The out of pocket costs for a phototherapy treatment cycle will thus consist of the initial consultation and the phototherapy induction fee.

Please refer to the Pioneer Health website for current consultation pricing.