Types Of Vitiligo Surgery

Vitiligo can be treated with surgical methods that involve changing the affected region in the skin to normal skin. This is more commonly done with the use of chemicals or cosmetics. However, for patients who need permanent treatment, there is always the option of vitiligo surgery.

Vitiligo Surgery

The surgeon prescribes this treatment method only if he has failed to achieve a cure with the less invasive methods that make use of drugs and other chemicals. The person who is to undergo vitiligo surgery should be made aware of the risks and the small success rate that these procedures entail.

Are all patients possible candidates for vitiligo surgery?

Vitiligo surgery cannot be done at all times. The patient suffering from vitiligo has to be tested under various criteria. The allergic reactions of the person are to be identified and the type of chemicals to be used have to be tested before surgery as well. In addition, the symptoms of vitiligo need to identified first. If the white patches are still in a phase of growth, surgery will not be an option as there is no chance for a cure by surgery. Only if there is no growth of the white patches can this option be viable.

What are the types of vitiligo surgery?

Some of the most common are:

  • Miniature punch grafting
  • Ultra-thin skin grafting
  • Suction blister grafting
  • Therapeutic spot or regional dermabrasion
  • Melanocyte culture or transplantation
  • Tattooing (micropigmentation)

These surgical methods are done only by professional dermatologists who are trained in this particular treatment.

In miniature punch grafting, a healthy portion of the skin from any donor is removed and placed on the white patches. This is possible only if the area affected by vitiligo is relatively small. If the surface is too large, miniature punch grafting is not applicable.

In the ultra-thin skin grafting technique, a thin layer of skin that contains the epidermis is placed over the affected area that has white patches. After some time, the expected repigmentation begins.

In suction blister grafting, suction is applied on the patient’s skin to remove a layer of that area which is then transplanted onto an area of a similar size on skin that has no pigmentation. The downside of this surgical procedure is that it may produce scarring and an unsightly cobblestone appearance on the skin.

The white patches on a vitiligo patient’s dermal layer is due to the lack of melanin. Melanin production, necessary for maintaining the normal coloration of the skin, can be triggered only by melanocytes. This results in the need for melanocytes, and through vitiligo surgery, the melanocytes are transplanted to the affected dermal layer.

Tattooing, or micropigmentation, involves the implantation of pigments onto the affected areas using a special instrument. This is very effective around the lip area and in people whose skin is dark. However, it is not often that the tattoo matches the skin color, and the tattoo colors also fade over time.

Other modern treatments

Vitiligo may now also be treated with narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy or excimer laser treatments. The latter involves controlled beams of UVB light being applied on small areas affected by vitiligo.

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