A Special Transplant To Transform Vitiligo

Although vitiligo affects 1 in 200 Americans, most people can name only one person they're aware of having had it: Michael Jackson. During his lifetime, treatments for this patchily skin-whitening disease were limited, with light therapy and topical medications serving as the most common therapies. However, an experimental new surgery may become available to patients in the US as soon this fall.

Melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation, or MKTP, involves harvesting pigment cells from a healthy section of skin, which are then made into a new mixture of skin cells. In a procedure lasting up to two hours, this cell mixture is then applied to the decolorized area and covered with a special dressing.

A Henry Ford Hospital study following the outcomes of more than 20 MKTP procedures showed it is a safe and effective vitiligo treatment for patients of various ethnicities.

"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," explained study leader Iltefat Hamzavi, MD, who is hoping to start performing the procedure in a non-investigational setting later this year. "This surgery offers hope to vitiligo patients."