What Is It?
Vitiligo is a medical condition that causes skin to lose colour. Some may develop only a few spots while others have more widespread colour loss. Vitiligo can develop in any part of the body.
Who Gets Vitiligo?
People of all races develop this condition. About half develop it by age of twenty, and nearly 90% develop vitiligo by the age of forty. Twenty percent of people living with vitiligo have a blood relative who has this condition.
Excimer lasers can treat vitiligo more effectively, safely and conveniently than topical creams and narrow beam-UVB light therapy. Clinical studies have shown that patients treated with the Excimer laser achieve greater repigmentation in two to four weeks than with any present vitiligo therapy.
Targeted treatment of vitiligo patches are treated, avoiding treatment of healthy tissue.
The treatment is convenient in that the treatments are painless and take only a few minutes, with treatment two to three times a week for several weeks.
The proposed mechanism of the Excimer laser for vitiligo is that it works through its immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory action to stabilise disease. It also stimulates melanocyte proliferation and migration of reservoir melanocytes to the epidermis from the outer sheath of hair follicles.
Am I a Candidate for Treatment
The Excimer laser therapy is used for treatment of patients of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The face responds best to treatment, along with the neck, armpits and trunk. Hands, feet, digits and other bony prominences are the most difficult areas to treat.
The suggested treatment regime is from two to three times a week, for a total treatment duration between four and thirty-six weeks. Patients vary in their response, but at least 18 treatments would be required, by which time some repigmentation would be expected. The initial repigmentation is generally perifollicular (around hair follicles) and peripheral, with eventual coalescence and resolution of the vitiliginous patch.
Studies comparing Excimer laser with narrow beam-UVB light therapy have found a higher induction of repigmentation with the Excimer laser. Furthermore, patients treated with the Excimer laser require few treatment sessions and a lower mean cumulative light of dose in comparison to those treated with narrow beam UVB light therapy. It also has the advantage of being more rapid and displaying a potential for improved patient satisfaction and compliance.
Is the Treatment Safe?
Patients generally tolerate the Excimer laser well. Adverse effects, if any, are limited to the irradiated area, the most common side-effect being mild to moderate redness at the treated site. The typical onset of redness in the vitiligo patient is 12 to 24 hours after treatment, persisting for up to 24 hours. Swelling, burning, stinging, itching and hyperpigmentation have also been reported, but such an occurrence is rare.
What Can I Expect During Treatment?
At the first visit, an assessment will be made as to the best light level for you. At the next visit, the doctor will place the handpiece directly on the vitiliginous patch and apply the laser therapy. Most treatments only take a few minutes.
Does the Treatment Hurt?
No. Most patients experience no pain or discomfort. As stated above, a few patients may experience slight warmth shortly after treatment. The warmth is mild and short-lived. No anaesthesia is required.
What’s the next step?
If you already have an appointment booked at The Skin Specialist Centre, you can easily add a vitiligo treatment consultation to your booking by calling our friendly team on (09) 524 5011. If you have never been to The Skin Specialist Centre, you can either give us a call on (09) 524 5011 or make an enquiry by clicking on the Enquire Now option below.