Surgery is sometimes used in people with localized areas of depigmentation that haven’t responded adequately to medical treatment. In an autologous skin graft, the doctor removes normal, pigmented skin from one part of the body and attaches it to the depigmented areas. Another method involves the doctor creating blisters on a person’s pigmented skin using heat, suction, or freezing cold, then cutting out the blistered skin and transplanting it onto depigmented areas. Sometimes micropigmentation (tattooing) is used to recolor the depigmented areas.
Recently, substantial advances have been made in techniques for autologous melanocyte transplants, in which samples of the person’s own pigmented skin are taken and placed in a cell culture solution to grow new melanocytes. Once the melanocytes have multiplied, they are transplanted back into the person’s depigmented skin patches.
For more information on vitiligo, its treatment, and counseling for it, contact the National Vitiligo Foundation (NVFI), 11250 Cornell Park Drive, Suite 207, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242. Call (513) 793-NVFI (6834), or log on to www.mynvfi.org.