The first form of therapy that is generally tried by vitiligo patients is steroid or immunomodulator therapy. Unfortunately, in virtually all cases, neither steroids nor immunomodulators result in great improvement .Therefore, doctors will recommend opting for the surgical route, which is generally more effective. However, not everyone will be able to afford this, especially since most insurance carriers will not cover this type of intervention. In addition, surgery is not without risk and there is no guarantee of its effectiveness.
Surgical Intervention of Vitiligo:
The main surgical interventions used for this are skin grafting procedures. In these operations, the surgeon will remove some healthy skin from an unaffected area and attach it to an affected area (i.e. on a ‘white patch’). Then, ultraviolet light will be used to make the cells in the transplanted skin produce pigment to cover the surrounding area.
Although in theory this is an ingenious procedure, it does suffer from several limitations. Firstly, in some cases the body will not accept the transplanted skin and will reject it. Even when the transplant is successful, inflammation, irritation and dry skin tend to result.
There are also cases where the transplanted skin develops a cobblestoned appearance, which is very unsightly. In a small proportion of cases, the operation results in skin trauma which actually ends up aggravating the vitiligo.
There are a number of different skin grafting procedures (e.g. mini-punch grafting, thin split-thickness grafts and suction blister grafts), however, all suffer from the pitfalls mentioned above.
A different type of surgical intervention involves growing the pigment-producing cells (the melanocytes) in the laboratory and then transplanting them into the affected skin. However, this is a fairly new procedure, and the long term effectiveness and safety of it are unknown.
Surgical Tattooing over Vitiligo:
For very small patches of affected skin, surgical tattooing may be used. In essence, this involves injecting a dye into the white patches of skin. This dye will be chosen to be as close as possible to the skin’s natural color, although a perfect match is impossible. The problem with this procedure is that normal skin will change color all the time according to sunlight exposure – on the other hand, tattooed skin will not.
Before opting for surgery, make sure you are well aware of the limitations and risks involved. Make sure you have tried all other options first, as surgery can leave irreversible damage.
A much better, safer option is to cure vitiligo holistically using a natural supplementation protocol coupled with dietary and lifestyle changes.