Laser-assisted depigmentation for resistant vitiligo: a retrospective case series with long-term follow-up


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Background  Blanching creams are used to depigment and to achieve uniform skin tone in widespread vitiligo. Length of the treatment and side-effects strongly limit their use in common practice.

Objectives  To assess the long-term efficacy and tolerance of Q-Switched (QS) lasers for depigmenting the remaining unaffected skin in vitiligo.

Methods  Retrospective study of vitiligo patients treated with QS lasers in the Department of Dermatology of the University Hospital of Nice, France, from 2002 to 2011. Localizations and the percentage of body surface area of treated lesions, the total number of sessions and the possible relapses and side-effects, were analysed. Global satisfaction of the patients was evaluated on a visual analogical scale.

Results  Sixteen areas of normally pigmented skin were treated in six patients. The median number of sessions to achieve a complete depigmentation was 2 (1–6). The mean duration of follow-up was 36 months (19–120). One third of the patients had no relapse. A complete repigmentation was observed after 21 months in one patient; a 50% repigmentation was noted in one patient, 7 months after the end of the treatment. Two patients showed a minimal repigmentation (<25%), 18 months and 9 years after the first laser treatments. The repigmentations were effectively treated with a maintenance session. The mean total number of sessions performed during this period was 3 (1–20). Side-effects were limited to transient purpura and crusts. The satisfaction of the patients was excellent (mean 9/10).

Conclusions  QS lasers appear as an efficient and safe modality for depigmenting normal skin in vitiligo.