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Vitiligo Or White Patch Removal Surgery
Vitiligo (white patch or SAFED DAAG) is a skin condition in which there is a loss of brown color (pigment) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin. Vitiligo appears to occur when immune cells destroy the cells that produce brown pigment (melanocytes). This destruction is thought to be due to an autoimmune problem, but the actual cause is unknown. Though vitiligo does not cause any problem to health, but its appearance is a taboo or stigma for our society.
Vitiligo may appear at any age. There is an increased rate of the condition in some families. Vitiligo most often affects the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitals. It affects both sides of the body equally. Vitiligo is more noticeable in darker-skinned people because of the contrast of white patches against dark skin. No other skin changes occur.
Vitiligo is often difficult to treat. Early treatment options include the following:
Phototherapy, a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to controlled ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone, or after you take a drug that makes your skin sensitive to light. A dermatologist performs this treatment.
Skin may be grafted from normally pigmented areas and placed onto areas where there is pigment loss. The white portion of skin is rubbed off or peeled off very superficially and a very thin skin graft contacting only the top most layer of skin with melanin pigment is applied over that. This is the most satisfactory method of treatment of vitiligo and considered as GOLD STANDARD treatment for vitiligo. But vitiligo must be stabled for at least 1-years for any surgical treatment to be useful or effective. Small vitiligo can be directly excised and closed using very fine stitches to make it almost invisible. Remember, after skin grafting or excision of the vitiligo, the final result may take 6-12 months, so plan your surgery well in advance to any social event or ceremony.
Several cover-up makeups (waterproof skin colors) can mask vitiligo.
In extreme cases when most of the body is affected, the remaining skin that still has pigment may be de-pigmented to provide a uniform color to the skin. This is a permanent change that is used as a last resort.
It is important to remember that skin without pigment is at greater risk for sun damage. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB), high-SPF sunscreen or sunblock and use appropriate safeguards against sun exposure.
Ques. What is the right time to perform surgery on vitiligo spots?
Ans. Once the white spots become stable (neither increasing nor decreasing) for at least one year, this is the right time to under go for plastic surgery. Small patches can be directly excised & repaired, while large spots need removal of white layers & its replacement by normal coloured skin.