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Phototherapy & Laser Treatment for Vitiligo

At NYU Langone, dermatologists use new, effective forms of light therapy to minimize the appearance of depigmented patches of skin caused by vitiligo. Phototherapy and laser treatments are painless therapies administered in a doctor’s office and are safe for people of all ages and skin tones. Your doctor may recommend light therapies in combination with topical medications to increase the effectiveness of both types of treatment.

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Phototherapy uses ultraviolet light—the same type of light found in natural sunlight—that has been specially filtered to deliver just those wavelengths most useful for stimulation of repigmentation. Exposure to these focused ultraviolet rays, called UVB rays, may increase the number of melanocytes in areas of skin affected by vitiligo and prevent new white patches from forming. 

NYU Langone has an onsite phototherapy center that offers full-body phototherapy in as little as 5 to 10 minutes. For people with mild vitiligo, four sessions per month may help shrink the size of existing light patches of skin and may prevent new patches from developing. For people with moderate to severe vitiligo, dermatologists may recommend two or three sessions per week. Our dermatologists and technicians offer appointments throughout the week, including evenings and Saturdays. 

If traveling to a doctor’s office for phototherapy is very inconvenient or difficult to fit into your schedule, our dermatologists can provide you with information about a portable phototherapy unit that you can use at home. 

Research shows that there are few side effects of phototherapy, but possible side effects include stinging or irritation on the skin and a sunburn-like reaction.

Laser Treatment

The excimer laser is a highly focused beam of UVB light. Dermatologists focus the laser directly on the lightened areas of skin using a wand-like device. The UVB light may stimulate repigmentation in the skin, restoring color to white patches. 

This procedure is painless and can be administered in a doctor’s office in less than half an hour. Multiple sessions are usually required to achieve the desired results, and dermatologists may suggest twice-weekly sessions for four to six months before determining whether further treatment is required. 

You can expect to return to work or continue your daily activities after an excimer treatment.

Our Research and Education in Vitiligo

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.