Background Surgical techniques have recently been introduced for patients with vitiligo. Randomized controlled trials have not been performed.

Aim To compare the efficacy and side-effects of two surgical methods (suction blister vs. thin split-thickness graft technique) for the treatment of vitiligo.

Methods Three suction blisters, approximately 0.8 cm in diameter, made with a special tool attached to a vacuum extractor, which were converted to erosions by removal of the roofs of the bullae, and one round erosion of approximately the same diameter, made using a silver knife, were created. One roof of a blister and two cutaneous thin split-thickness grafts taken from the gluteal region were transferred onto recipient vitiliginous areas; one was left alone. The results were evaluated by one non-blind and two blind observers bimonthly during the 3-month follow-up period.

Results Repigmentation rates were 25–65% in the suction blister technique and 90% in the thin split-thickness graft technique (P < 0.001).

Conclusions The thin split-thickness graft technique is superior to the suction blister technique in treating vitiligo.