Expert opinion about laser and intense pulsed light (IPL)-induced leukoderma or vitiligo: a cross-sectional survey study

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Archives of dermatological research


Vitiligo patients may desire laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation, vascular treatments, and other laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) assisted treatments. However, there is a risk of inducing new depigmented patches (Koebner phenomenon). In absence of guidelines on the safe use of laser or IPL in vitiligo patients, dermatologists tend to be reluctant to administer these treatments. The aim of this survey study was to provide an estimation of the occurrence and related risk factors of laser/IPL-induced leukoderma or vitiligo. A cross-sectional survey study was performed among 15 vitiligo experts from 11 countries, with 14 questions about affected patients, involved laser/IPL treatments and the physicians' approach. In a total of 11,300 vitiligo patients, laser/IPL-induced leukoderma or vitiligo was reported in 30 patients (0.27%). Of these, 12 (40%) patients had a medical history of vitiligo and seven (58%) of these patients had stable (> 12 months) vitiligo before the treatment. Most frequently reported were hair removal procedures and localization of the face and legs. Side effects like blistering, crusting, and erosions occurred in 56.7% of the cases. These vitiligo experts based their advice on the risk of the laser treatment on stability of the vitiligo (43%) and activity signs (50%), and 50% discuss the risks before starting a laser treatment. Relevant activity signs are the Koebner phenomenon (57.1%), confetti-like lesions (57.1%) and hypochromic borders (50%). Laser-induced leukoderma or vitiligo is an uncommon phenomenon. Remarkably, a minority had a medical history of vitiligo of which 58% were stable. Consequently, most cases could not have been prevented by not treating vitiligo patients. However, a majority had laser/IPL-induced skin damage. Therefore, caution is advised with aggressive settings and test-spots prior to the treatment are recommended. This study showed significant variation in the current recommendations and approach of vitiligo experts regarding laser/IPL-induced leukoderma or vitiligo.

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ePub ahead of print