Surgical treatments

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Surgical treatments are only suitable for people with stable vitiligo.  They involve transplanting pigment cells (melanocytes) from someone’s normally pigmented skin into their vitiligo skin.  Recent research in India suggests that the results of this procedure can be improved by suspending the melanocytes in the patients’ own serum (plasma in blood). 

This could be an important innovation in the surgical management of patients with stable vitiligo. (See the research of Shane and colleagues in the journal Dermatologic Surgery 2011; 37: 176-82).

Recell is quite a new procedure that involves taking a sample of normal skin, separating out the skin cells and then spraying them onto the vitiligo patches.  Recent research has assessed the effectiveness of the ReCell kit (Clinical Cell Culture, Cambridge, U.K.) for treating vitiligo, comparing it with conventional transplantation (known as melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation or MKT).  Dr Mulekar and colleagues (British Journal of Dermatology 2008; 158: 45-9) found that, of the five lesions treated with ReCell, two lesions showed 100%, one 65% and one 40% repigmentation, and one lesion failed to repigment.  With the five lesions treated by conventional MKT, three showed 100% and one 30% repigmentation and one failed to repigment.  (ReCell is not generally available in the UK).