Dermatologists and Skin Care

Surgical Management of Vitiligo

Written by Dr. Suvash Sahu and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Surgical Management of Vitiligo


Vitiligo, also known as white patch disease, is characterized by amelanotic or hypomelanotic patches anywhere over the body. Till date, there is no definite etiology known for vitiligo. This skin disease has great social consequences in our modern society in spite of it being non-contagious in nature.

Stages of Vitiligo

Vitiligo can be divided into three stages:

  1. Active or progressive stage.
  2. Stable or quiescent stage.
  3. Repigmenting stage.
  • Active or progressive disease stage is when the depigmented lesions or white patches are increasing in size or number and borders are not well defined.
  • Stable or quiescent disease stage is when there are no new lesions or patches or changes in existing lesions and borders are well defined.
  • Repigmenting disease stage is where there is a marginal pigmentation around hair follicles.

Surgical Treatment for Vitiligo

Various modalities have been used to treat vitiligo, which include phototherapy, photochemotherapy, topical and systemic steroids, immunomodulating agents like Levamisole, calcineurin inhibitors like Tacrolimus, etc. Many patients get complete repigmentation with medical treatment, but a vast number of patients do not respond satisfactorily to medical treatment. Hence, the need for surgical treatment is required.

Surgical treatment for vitiligo is indicated when the diseases is stable and resistant to conventional medical therapy. The advantage of surgical treatment is that it provides long-lasting pigmentary cover over a short period of time.

There are various surgical modalities such as

  1. Punch grafting.
  2. Thin split thickness skin grafting.
  3. Suction blister grafting.
  4. Tattooing.
  5. Dermabrasion.
  6. Cultured skin grafting.
  7. Others, including trypsinised autologous grafting, excision, etc.

Surgical treatment for vitiligo is indicated for patches resistant and stable for at least one year of time. If small area or small patches are depigmented, then it can be treated with the punch grafting and suction blister grafting. If large area or large patches are involved, then thin split thickness skin grafting, dermabrasion and culture techniques like melanocytes transplantation are useful.

To know more about the treatment options of vitiligo, consult a vitiligo specialist online -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



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