The excimer laser was invented in the 70s and uses a combination of two gases and electrical stimulation to create a laser light in the UV range. Currently, the most widespread therapy for the repigmentation of vitiligo spots relies on narrow band UV radiation with a wavelength of 311nM (nbUVB), emitted by a medical light bulb. This light can also be produced using excimer technology, with the advantage of laser’s precision, controlled dosage and good response from the skin.
In practice, during a UV treatment session using a UV wand, the patient exposes both vitiligo patches and healthy skin to the light, over time, increasing the contrast between the two. With excimer technology, the light exposure is limited to the treatment area and can be precisely controlled. The laser spot size is 2x2 cm making this therapy appropriate for the treatment of both small and medium sized areas.
While conventional UV therapy is time consuming and requires many sessions to see results, excimer reports clearance within 10 treatment sessions. A treatment session also lasts less then conventional UV therapy as the parameter regulated over time is the laser intensity, not the exposure duration.
An excimer laser for the treatment of vitiligo is the Xtrac laser produced by Photomedex. More info can be found on their website www.photomedex.com
There is also controversy over the efficiency of excimer laser therapy. A study from the Department of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand reports : „Although few previous studies demonstrated that 308-excimer laser is an effective and fast treatment option for vitiligo, our study which included only recalcitrant cases did not achieved similar results. After 20 treatment sessions only 15% (14/93) of treated patches showed repigmentation. After 50 treatments sessions up to 35% (12/34) of treated patches showed repigmentation which is less effective than our own experience with narrow-band UVB in recalcitrant vitiligo which showed 42% repigmentation after 60 treatments.”
Photo source: 308 EXCIMER LASER FOR VITILIGO: RESPONSES IN DIFFERENT BODY AREAS, Chanitwan Treewittayapoom, MD, Natta Rajatanavin, MD, Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand