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Skin transplant offers new hope for vitiligo patients
Date:5/30/2012

DETROIT Henry Ford Hospital dermatologists say skin transplant surgery is safe and effective for restoring skin pigmentation caused by the skin disease vitligo.

In a first study of its kind in the United States, researchers followed 23 patients for up to six months after surgery and found that the treated area regained on average 43 percent of its natural skin color. In eight patients with localized vitiligo, the treated area regained on average 68 percent of its natural skin color.

The surgery involves using skin cells taken from healthy, normally pigmented areas of the body and transferring them to the damaged area of skin. It is performed under local anesthesia.

The study is published in the May edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. It is available online at http://www.eblue.org/article/S0190-9622(11)00527-5/abstract.

"The results achieved in our study were of obvious significance to our patients," says Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D., a senior staff physician in Henry Ford's Department of Dermatology and the study's senior author and principal investigator. "We believe this new treatment option offers hope to patients of color and those with vitiligo on one side of the body or in one area of the body."

Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes the skin to lose color and develop white patches that vary in size and location. It affects about 1 in every 200 people in the United States, and is more noticeable in people with darker skin. Standard treatments include light therapy and topical medications.

Vitiligo develops when cells called melanocytes are killed by the body's immune system, causing the area of skin to turn white because the cells no longer make pigment. While there is no cure, vitiligo can be treated and managed with light therapy, creams and topical medications.

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Contact: David Olejarz
David.Olejarz@hfhs.org
313-874-4094
Henry Ford Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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