Natural color of the skin is because of Melanin, a pigment produced by certain cells called Melanocytes in the upper layers of skin. Melanin protects the skin from harmful UV Rays.
Destruction of these melanocyte manifest as white patches.
This affects approximately two to three percent of the Indian population.
A white spot of vitiligo on the skin, although only cosmetic in nature, has a devastating effect on the psychology of that individual as it distorts the body image, causes anxiety and depression .
Although it is not contagious this disease has tremendous social stigma. it is difficult to find a mate for marriage. Not only for the person affected with vitiligo, but also for the unaffected sibling.
Types of vitiligo
Vitiligo Vulgaris : The most common presentation in which the patches are distributed bi- laterally symmetrical.
Acrofacial Vitiligo : Patches are on fingers, toes, palms, soles and around facial orifices.
Segmental Vitilgo : Occurs in a unilateral asymmetric distribution spreading over one or more dermatomes.
Lip-tip Vitilgo : Patches are restricted only to lips and distal parts of the fingers and toes.
Focal Vitilgo : One or two closely set depigmented patches localised to a single area.
Universal Vitilgo : Loss of pigment over the entire body surface except a few small islands of pigmented skin.
These modalities are aimed to stimulate the viable melanocytes in the spots of vitiligo.to produce color. There is good repigmentation with these provided there are viable melanocytes in the patch of vitiligo. Hair roots in the skin have plenty of melanocytes which are stimulated with treatment to produce the color which migrates to the surrounding skin.
But If the melanocytes in the spots are destroyed then response to these treatments is poor. In such situation certain surgical treatments are preferred for speedy repigmentation of the spots.
Melanocyte Transplant surgery : Melanocyte transplantation is the most advanced surgical method to treat vitiligo / leucoderma.
What is that ?
A small piece of healthy skin of the patient is taken out , the pigment cells from this piece are extracted & spread on the patch of vitiligo to be treated.
When it is done?
When the patches do not respond , or respond very slowly to medicines and phototherapy.
Vitiligo patients should fulfill the following criteria to be eligible for surgery:
The Operation Steps :
The skin cells attach themselves and the healing and repigmentation process begins.
Post Operative :
Treated areas remain pink after removal of dressing.
White patches on the lips and nipples of the breast can be treated by this method. In this, artificial inert pigments which match the skin colour are injected in the upper layers of the skin by a special machine. This is an instant caumoflaging technique, effective particularly in dark people on lips and nipples .No hospital stay is necessary.
Advantages of Melanocyte Transplantation
some patients may require more than one sitting for 100% pigmentation