The use of lasers in vitiligo, an overview

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Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology


Various types of lasers have been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of vitiligo. The mode of action of these lasers is just as varied as the purpose of intervention. Many clinicians are not aware of the unique opportunity these lasers offer to improve the outcomes of vitiligo treatment. To date, no clear overview exists of the use of lasers in vitiligo treatment. Thus, the aim of this review is to discuss the various types of lasers and provide an overview of the evidence for their efficacy. We found good evidence from a systematic review that the excimer laser is effective, induces repigmentation rates comparable to NB-UVB and has improved outcomes when combined with calcineurin inhibitors. Ablative lasers are commonly used for tissue graft or melanocyte-keratinocyte cell graft transplantation. They provide safe, fast and uniform denudation of the epidermis with propitious repigmentation outcomes. We found conflicting evidence from two systematic reviews regarding the efficacy of fractional ablative lasers for improving outcomes of NB-UVB therapy, a systematic review including only fractional ablative lasers provided evidence for efficacy. Q-switched nanosecond lasers have shown to be safe and effective for inducing depigmentation, although recurrence is common, and most studies were small and retrospective. Despite proven efficacy and safety, laser treatments are relatively expensive and suited for limited body surface areas and selected cases. Each type of laser has benefits and risks associated and should, therefore, be individually chosen based on location, extent, activity and type of vitiligo.

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ePub ahead of print