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What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder that causes areas of skin to lose colour. It presents as depigmented (white) patches. Exposed body sites, such as the face, elbows, knees, hands and feet, are often involved, resulting in significant cosmetic concerns. Vitiligo is usually treated with creams and tablets, or by phototherapy. Vitiligo may fail to improve or clear with these treatments.

Surgical treatment options can be considered in patients with stable vitiligo.

What is the goal of vitiligo surgery?

The goal of vitiligo surgery is to achieve complete repigmentation that cosmetically matches the surrounding normal skin.

Appropriate patient selection is vital in ensuring the best outcome, as not all patients or vitiliginous skin sites are suitable for surgery. Prior to surgery the following patient factors should be considered:
• The age of the patient
• Patient expectations
• Disease stability
• Size and location of the vitiligo patch
• The proposed method of surgery
• The proposed donor site

What are the different types of vitiligo surgery?

All types of surgical treatment aim to transfer melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) from normal skin (the donor site) to the skin affected by vitiligo.

Surgical treatment for vitiligo can be considered in two main categories:
• Grafting of melanocyte-rich tissue (tissue grafting)
• Grafting of melanocyte cells (cellular grafting).