Vitiligo is a skin condition which causes clearly defined milky-white patches to appear on the skin
Melanocyte transplantation is the latest and most advanced surgical method for the treatment of vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a skin condition which causes clearly defined milky-white patches to appear on the skin. These patches can occur on any part of the body.
Melanocytes are the skin cells which produce melanin. A complete absence of skin colour usually means the melanocytes have been destroyed. Thanks to an innovative treatment, it is now possible to take melanocytes from a healthy area of skin and transfer them in a suspension onto the damaged area of skin.
This process can be carried out in a clinic in one to three hour. It is important to note that this is not a melanocyte culturing process.
Leucoderma is another form of loss of skin colour. Sometimes it is the result of trauma such as scar dischromia.
Which patients are most suited to melanocyte transplantation?
Patients who have had stable vitiligo patches for a period of at least 6 months are good candidates to undergo melanocyte transplantation.
Patients should fulfill the following criteria to be eligible for surgery.
Existing patches should not have increased in size.
No new patches should have appeared on other areas.
Any injury should heal with normal skin color.
Response according to type of vitiligo:
Segmental. Best response and most suitable. Success rate 94%
Focal Very good response and suitable. Success rate 80%
Vulgaris Responds well on lower extremity, poor response on face. Success rate 75%
Acral Poor response in all areas. Success rate 20%
Success rate of treatment is 94% ie 94% of treated patients develop pigmentation over 65% to 100% of the treated area.
Recurrence of vitiligo after melanocyte transfer treatment:
Segmental Almost no recurrence
Focal Minimal chance of recurrence. It can develop in vulgaris type.
Vulgaris Can recur.
Acral Very high rate of recurrence
What size area can be treated? In one operative session up to 100 cm2 of white patches can be treated depending upon the sites involved. If the affected area is larger, patient has to undergo multiple treatment sessions.
Is one operative session enough for complete recovery? Sometimes a few white spots remain once the treated area has repigmented. These need to be retreated by melanocyte transplantation. Approximately 30% patients require repeat surgery for complete recovery.
Most advanced method This is the most advanced surgical method to treat stable Vitiligo. Large areas can be treated. Repigmentation occurs in about 4 to 6 months and cosmetic results are superior to other surgical methods such as skin grafting, punchgrafts. Difficult areas such as bony surfaces, the areola, genitals and knuckles can be treated with excellent results.