Henry Ford HospitalVitiligo is believed to be a chronic disorder that seems to cause depigmentation in patches of skin. It apparently affects around 1 in every 200 people in the US and is said to be more visible in people with darker skin. A Henry Ford Hospital study apparently exhibited that skin transplant surgery may be safe and effectual for treating patients with vitiligo.

Henry Ford scientists trailed around 23 patients for around six months following surgery and discovered that the treated region recovered an average of about 52 percent of its natural skin color. It was seen that in roughly 8 patients with a particular kind of vitiligo, the treated zone seems to get back an average of approximately 74 percent of its natural skin color. The surgery apparently utilizes skin cells extracted from normally-pigmented regions of the body and relocating them to the impaired region of skin. This surgery is supposedly conducted under local anesthesia.

“This surgery offers hope to vitiligo patients. The results achieved in our study were of obvious significance to our patients,” commented, Iltefat Hamzavi, M.D. a senior staff physician in Henry Ford’s Department of Dermatology and the study’s senior author and principal investigator.

While the beginning outcomes are said to be preliminary and the process is still tentative, Dr. Hamzavi is of the opinion Henry Ford anticipates offering the surgery as part of its treatment portfolio this fall. He mentioned that for a few patients the surgery may be more effectual as compared to standard treatments such as light therapy and topical medications.

Dr. Hamzavi mentioned, “Patients of color and those with vitiligo on one side of the body and in one area of the body may benefit most from this procedure.”

Vitiligo seems to arise when cells known as melanocytes are destroyed by the body’s immune system, thereby causing the region of skin to turn white since the cells no longer make pigment. Although there is no cure, vitiligo may be treated and controlled with light therapy, creams and topical medications.

The surgery is called melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation or MKTP, and is said to be conducted in Europe, Asia and Middle East. It was performed at Henry Ford by means of the same method crafted by MKTP pioneer Sanjeev Mulekar, M.D., of the National Vitiligo Center in Saudi Arabia. Henry Ford was claimed to be the first to perform MKTP in North America.

Henry Ford’s study included around 32 patients, out of which 18 were male and 14 female. They went through surgery and seemed to vary in age from 18 to 60. A sum of 40 MKTP procedures was thought to be conducted and experts examined the results of 29 of them. The procedure was for roughly 30 minutes to two hours and patients could come go back home the same day. Of the 32 surgery patients, around 23 were trailed for roughly six months post surgery. Approximately 18 patients were given 1 treatment, roughly 4 patients received 2 and 1 patient was given 3. The ethnicity of patients was believed to be Caucasian, South Asian, African American and Hispanic.

During MKTP, melanocyte cells, which generate pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, are taken from a region of healthy skin and isolated to make a skin cell mixture. This combination then is used on the treatment area and covered with a specifically crafted adhesive biologic dressing. Treated regions seem to encompass the hands, arms, legs, feet, face and stomach.

The study was presented the 68th annual American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Miami.