A new hope for restoring pigmentation to vitiligo patients
November 1, 2015
About 2 million people in the United States develop vitiligo, a disease that causes the loss of skin color, usually in blotches. Although the condition is not life-threatening or contagious, it can be life-altering and affect self-esteem.
Now, a UT Southwestern dermatologist has improved a technique for transplanting pigment cells that can repair areas affected by vitiligo.
The procedure involves intentionally creating a painless, dime-sized blister—usually on the abdomen, thigh, or buttock— and extracting cells from the blister roof that are then transferred to the vitiliginous areas, which have been prepared with superficial laser surgery under local anesthesia. Thousands of new, pigmented cells are transplanted with each procedure.
“This provides new hope for patients with vitiligo,” says Amit Pandya, M.D., the UT Southwestern Professor of Dermatology who refined the technique after traveling to China, India, and Michigan to research it.
“The unique aspect of our procedure, which no one else in the world is doing, is the formation of blisters as the source of donor cells, combined with laser surgery to prepare the grafted areas,” he says. “The older method of cutting the skin leaves a scar. This doesn’t.”
Dr. Pandya, the only full-time pigmentary disorders specialist in Texas, has spent more than a decade treating vitiligo patients in the Pigmentation Disorders Clinic at UT Southwestern.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pandya, call 214-645-8300.
Did you know?
Vitiligo occurs about equally in people of all skin colors and races, and also about equally in males and females. Most people who develop vitiligo have it for the rest of their lives. It is very rare for vitiligo to disappear on its own.