Background Phototherapeutic techniques were introduced into medical practice by the ancient Egyptians. It is considered a cornerstone in the management of resistant vitiligo; yet, failures are very well known. Recently, the introduction of surgical techniques provided a major development in the management of vitiligo and replaced other conventional unsuccessful therapies.
Objectives The aim of this work is to find out if phototherapy, which failed to resolve the vitiligo problem in patients, is still required in the treatment strategy after epithelial grafting of the same cases.
Methods Twenty-five vitiligo patients, nonresponding to classic phototherapy, were treated surgically. Ultrathin Thiersch grafts and suction blister grafts were used. Phototherapy using untraviolet A (UVA) bulbs in combination with psoralen or khellin was used postoperatively immediately after take of grafts onto recipient sites.
Results In spite of reactivation of depigmentary effects at grafted areas, phototherapy acted as a stimulator for melanocytic proliferation and function and as an immunosuppressant, halting the melanocytic destructive process. The application of UVA phototherapy resulted in successful treatment in the patients receiving it.
Conclusion The success of epithelial grafting in patients with vitiligo can be increased by UVA phototherapy.