Permanent repigmentation of piebaldism by erbium:YAG laser and autologous cultured epidermis


Michele De Luca, Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto, Epithelial Stem Cell Research Centre, Ospedale Civile di Venezia, Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo, 30122 Venice, Italy.


Background  Several surgical techniques have been proposed for the treatment of piebaldism. These procedures, however, are poorly suited for the treatment of large leucodermal lesions, can cause scars and require multiple donor sites. Recently, it has been reported that autologous cultured epidermis induces scarless repigmentation of large vitiligo lesions, using a single small donor site.

Objectives  To induce permanent repigmentation of large achromic lesions in patients suffering from piebaldism by means of autologous cultured epidermal grafts using a rapid, simple and non-invasive surgical procedure.

Methods  Six patients with piebaldism were enrolled in this study. Achromic epidermis was removed by means of appropriately set erbium:YAG laser and autologous cultured epidermal grafts were applied on to the recipient bed. Melanocyte content was evaluated by 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine reaction. The percentage of repigmentation was calculated using a semiautomatic image analysis system.

Results  Autologous cultured epidermis, bearing a controlled number of melanocytes, induced repigmentation of all piebald lesions. The mean percentage repigmentation was 95·45% (2791·5 cm2 repigmented/2924·2 cm2 transplanted).

Conclusions  Autologous cultured epidermal grafts induce permanent and complete repigmentation of piebald lesions, in the absence of scars. Erbium:YAG laser surgery is a rapid and precise tool for disepithelialization, hence allowing treatment of large piebald lesions during a single surgical operation.