Derm Topics

Vitiligo Surgical Treatment Advances

Next Steps in Derm, in partnership with Pigmentary Disorders Exchange Symposium, interviewed Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, a dermatologist with Henry Ford Health and associate professor of dermatology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Learn from Dr. Hamzavi the key pillars of vitiligo treatment, and why there’s room to improve available options for melanocyte recruitment and repair. Dr. Hamzavi outlines why surgery may be a better option compared with phototherapy, and the areas of the body that may benefit the most from vitiligo surgery. Find out the benefits and drawbacks of available surgical techniques, including Melanocyte Keratinocyte Transplant Procedure (MKTP).

Further Reading

If you want to read more about surgical treatment for vitiligo, check out the following articles published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology:

Short and Long-Term Outcomes of 308-nm Laser for Pediatric Vitiligo


Pediatric vitiligo is often challenging to treat. Children with vitiligo experience stigma, bullying, and emotional distress. The long-term outcome of therapeutics used to treat pediatric vitiligo has been poorly documented in the literature. It is, therefore, hard to counsel patients on the expected long-term results of therapy. We sought to address outcomes in pediatric vitiligo treated with a 308-nm laser. An IRB-exempt chart review was conducted in June of 2016 of children undergoing active 308-nm laser in the first half of 2016. Demographic data, location of disease, therapeutic parameters of the 308-nm laser, and outcomes were recorded at that time. In 2021, the long-term outcomes were analyzed through chart review addressing pigmentation retained at later office visits. Initial repigmentation was noted in 86.7% of the face, 80% of the body, and 61.7% of the extremities. An average of 3.38 years of follow-up was recorded. Scoring extent of vitiligo using 18 site-scoring was helpful in identifying individuals who are less likely to respond to 308-nm laser, but needs broader evaluation. During that time, repigmentation was noted to be retained in 80% of facial, 40% of the body, and 20% of extremity lesions. Pediatric vitiligo responds well to the 308-nm laser, with the best retention of repigmentation for facial lesions. Patients and parents should be counseled on the likelihood of long-term retention of repigmentation and regarding the need for the ongoing management of vitiligo even after repigmentation is initially achieved after 308-nm laser therapy.

Re-pigmentation of Hypopigmentation: Fractional Lasers vs Laser-Assisted Delivery of Bimatoprost vs Epidermal Melanocyte Harvesting System


Background: Hypopigmentation is a common cutaneous manifestation that frequently poses a therapeutic challenge for dermatologists. Current treatments have varying efficacies and rarely provide patients with long-term results. However, new treatments are emerging, and head-to-head studies comparing these treatments are warranted.
Methods & Materials: In this prospective, Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved, double-blinded study, 40 subjects with moderate to severe hypopigmentation were randomized into 1 of 4 treatment arms; non-ablative fractional laser, ablative fractional laser, ablative fractional laser with laser-assisted delivered bimatoprost, and an epidermal harvesting system.
Results: All patients in this study showed improvement regardless of the treatment modality. The average improvement score was calculated on a 0 to 4 scale, and Group 3 (fractional ablative laser and bimatoprost) was found to have a significantly higher average improvement than all other treatments, with 76% of the patients exhibiting at least a grade 3 (over 50%) improvement over the treatment course. Group 1 (non-ablative fractional) also had a significantly higher average score compared with group 2 (fractional ablative laser).
Conclusion: New and emerging therapies have shown promise in helping re-pigmentation of cutaneous hypopigmentation. In this head-to-head trial, it was shown that laser-assisted delivery of bimatoprost had a greater statistically significant improvement compared with 3 possible treatment modalities for stimulation of pigment in medical and cosmetic hypopigmentation.

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