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All about vitiligo causes of vitiligo symptoms of vitiligo diagnosis of vitiligo medical treatments for vitiligo surgical therapies for vitiligo alternative therapies for vitiligo

What are the surgical therapies for vitiligo?

All surgical therapies must be viewed as experimental because their effectiveness and side effects remain to be fully defined.

Autologous Skin Grafts

In an autologous (use of a person's own tissues) skin graft, the doctor removes skin from one area of a patient's body and attaches it to another area. This type of skin grafting is sometimes used for patients with small patches of vitiligo. The doctor removes sections of the normal, pigmented skin (donor sites) and places them on the depigmented areas (recipient sites). There are several possible complications of autologous skin grafting. Infections may occur at the donor or recipient sites. The recipient and donor sites may develop scarring, a cobblestone appearance, or a spotty pigmentation, or may fail to repigment at all. Treatment with grafting takes time and is costly, and most people find it neither acceptable nor affordable.


Skin Grafts Using Blisters

In this procedure, the doctor creates blisters on the patient's pigmented skin by using heat, suction, or freezing cold. The tops of the blisters are then cut out and transplanted to a depigmented skin area. The risks of blister grafting include the development of a cobblestone appearance, scarring, and lack of repigmentation. However, there is less risk of scarring with this procedure than with other types of grafting.

Micropigmentation (Tattooing)

Tattooing implants pigment into the skin with a special surgical instrument. This procedure works best for the lip area, particularly in people with dark skin; however, it is difficult for the doctor to match perfectly the color of the skin of the surrounding area. Tattooing tends to fade over time. In addition, tattooing of the lips may lead to episodes of blister outbreaks caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Autologous Melanocyte Transplants

In this procedure, the doctor takes a sample of the patient's normal pigmented skin and places it in a laboratory dish containing a special cell culture solution to grow melanocytes. When the melanocytes in the culture solution have multiplied, the doctor transplants them to the patient's depigmented skin patches. This procedure is currently experimental and is impractical for the routine care of people with vitiligo.

More information on vitiligo

What is vitiligo? - Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which pigment cells (melanocytes) are destroyed, resulting in irregularly shaped white patches on the skin. Vitiligo consists of white patches of skin.
What causes vitiligo? - In vitiligo, specific autoantibodies against a patient's melanocytes are found in the blood. Vitiligo may also be due to a nerve disorder.
What are the symptoms of vitiligo? - People who develop vitiligo usually first notice white patches on their skin. Vitiligo causes light or white patches on skin that are symmetrical.
How is the diagnosis of vitiligo made? - Important vitiligo diagnosis factors in a patient's medical history include: vitiligo in the family; a rash, sunburn, or other skin trauma, tress or physical illness.
What are the medical treatments for vitiligo? - The goal of treating vitiligo is to restore the function of the skin and to improve the patient's appearance. Vitiligo should be treated only if it causes emotional or social distress.
What are the surgical therapies for vitiligo? - Surgical therapies for vitiligo include autologous skin grafts, skin grafts using blisters, micropigmentation (tattooing), and autologous melanocyte transplants.
What alternative therapies are available for vitiligo? - Alternative therapies for vitiligo include sunscreens, cosmetics, counseling from support groups. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005