Am J Clin Dermatol. 2016 Feb;17(1):23-32. doi: 10.1007/s40257-015-0164-2.

Efficacy and Safety of 308-nm Monochromatic Excimer Lamp Versus Other Phototherapy Devices for Vitiligo: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.

Lopes C1, Trevisani VF2,3,4, Melnik T5,6.

Author information

  • 1Dermatology Department, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2Division of Emergency Medicine and Evidence-Based Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 3Discipline of Rheumatology, Santo Amaro University (UNISA), São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 4Disciplina de Medicina Baseada em Evidência, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Rua Botucatu, 740-3° andar-Vila Clementino, São Paulo, SP, 04023-900, Brazil.
  • 5Internal Medicine and Evidence-Based Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 6Brazilian Cochrane Center, São Paulo, Brazil.



Various phototherapy methods are used to treat vitiligo; however, the recent emergence of new devices has heightened debate concerning the best treatment method.


We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze published data comparing the efficacy and adverse effects of monochromatic excimer lamps versus excimer laser and narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) in treating vitiligo.


A systematic search of PubMed, EMBASE, LILACS, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and clinical trials registries identified randomized controlled trials that included vitiligo patients, regardless of age, sex, or study language. We evaluated studies comparing excimer lamps with excimer laser or NB-UVB phototherapy.


The review included six studies (411 patients, 764 lesions). No study found significantly different efficacy between excimer lamps and excimer laser using the outcomes of ?50% repigmentation [risk ratio (RR) = 0.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84-1.11] and ?75% repigmentation (RR = 0.96, 95% CI 0.71-1.30). Likewise, no study found significant differences between excimer lamps and NB-UVB (RR = 1.14, 95% CI 0.88-1.48 for ?50% repigmentation; RR = 1.81, 95% CI 0.11-29.52 for ?75% repigmentation). Adverse effects were mild, including pruritus, burning sensation, and dryness, none of which interrupted treatment.


To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review of the efficacy and safety of excimer lamp treatment for vitiligo. Excimer lamps, excimer laser, and NB-UVB are all safe and effective in repigmentation of vitiligo lesions. Safety, effectiveness, and cost are considerations when choosing treatment.

Lasers Med Sci. 2015 May 8. [Epub ahead of print]

A comparative study of the effects of different low-level lasers on the proliferation, viability, and migration of human melanocytes in vitro.

AlGhamdi KM1, Kumar A, Ashour AE, AlGhamdi AA.

Author information

  • 1Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 240997, Riyadh, 11322, Saudi Arabia,


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different low-level laser therapies (LLLTs) of various wavelengths and energies on normal cultured human melanocytes. Various studies have shown the effects of LLLs on various types of cultured cells. Presently, little is known about the biological effects of LLLTs on melanocytes. Melanocytes were exposed to LLLT at 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, or 5.0 J/cm2 using a blue (457 nm), red (635 nm), or ultraviolet (UV) (355 nm) laser. Melanocyte viability, proliferation, and migration were monitored at 72 h after irradiation. The blue (P?<?0.001) and red (P?<?0.001 and P?<?0.01) lasers significantly enhanced viability at 0.5 to 2.0 J/cm2, whereas the UV laser (P?<?0.001) could significantly enhance viability only at 0.5 and 1.0 J/cm2 compared with controls. The blue and red lasers also significantly enhanced the proliferation of the melanocytes at 0.5 to 2.0 J/cm2 (P?<?0.001), and the UV laser significantly enhanced proliferation at 0.5 to 1.5 J/cm2 (P?<?0.001 and P?<?0.01) compared with controls. The blue laser significantly enhanced melanocyte migration at 0.5 to 4.0 J/cm2 (P?<?0.001 to P?<?0.05), but the red (P?<?0.001 and P?<?0.01) and UV (P?<?0.001 to P?<?0.05) lasers could significantly enhance such migration at 0.5 to 1.0 J/cm2 and 0.5 to 2.0 J/cm2, respectively, compared with controls. LLLT at low energy densities is able to significantly increase melanocyte viability, proliferation, and migration in vitro, and at higher energy densities, it gives non-stimulatory results. Additionally, the blue laser was the best among the three lasers. These findings might have potential application in vitiligo treatment in future.

Br J Dermatol. 2009 Aug;161(2):273-80. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Low-energy helium-neon laser induces melanocyte proliferation via interaction with type IV collagen: visible light as a therapeutic option for vitiligo.

Lan CC, Wu CS, Chiou MH, Chiang TY, Yu HS.

Department of Dermatology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


BACKGROUND: The treatment of vitiligo remains a challenge for clinical dermatologists. We have previously shown that the helium-neon laser (He-Ne laser, 632.8 nm) is a therapeutic option for treatment of this depigmentary disorder.

OBJECTIVES: Addressing the intricate interactions between melanocytes, the most important cellular component in the repigmentation scheme of vitiligo, and their innate extracellular matrix collagen type IV, the current study aimed to elucidate the effects of the He-Ne laser on melanocytes.

METHODS: Cultured melanocytes were irradiated with the He-Ne laser. Relevant biological parameters including cell attachment, locomotion and growth were evaluated. In addition, the potentially involved molecular pathways were also determined.

RESULTS: Our results show that in addition to suppressing mobility but increasing attachment to type IV collagen, the He-Ne laser stimulates melanocyte proliferation through enhanced alpha2beta1 integrin expression. The expression of phosphorylated cyclic-AMP response element binding protein (CREB), an important regulator of melanocyte growth, was also upregulated by He-Ne laser treatment. Using a specific mitochondrial uncoupling agent [carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl-hydrazone (CCCP)], the proliferative effect of the He-Ne laser on melanocytes was abolished and suppression of melanocyte growth was noted.

CONCLUSIONS: In summary, we have demonstrated that the He-Ne laser imparts a growth stimulatory effect on functional melanocytes via mitochondria-related pathways and proposed that other minor pathways including DNA damage may also be inflicted by laser treatment on irradiated cells. More importantly, we have completed the repigmentation scheme of vitiligo brought about by He-Ne laser light in vitro and provided a solid theoretical basis regarding how the He-Ne laser induces recovery of vitiligo in vivo.

Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2008 Apr;24(4):180-9.

Low-energy helium-neon laser therapy induces repigmentation and improves the abnormalities of cutaneous microcirculation in segmental-type vitiligo lesion.


Wu CS, Hu SC, Lan CC, Chen GS, Chuo WH, Yu HS.

Department of Dermatology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Segmental vitiligo (SV) is a special form of vitiligo occurring in a dermatomal distribution, and an abnormality involving the sympathetic nerves supplying the affected dermatome is known to underlie this disorder. Previously, we have shown that SV is associated with an abnormal increase in cutaneous blood flow and adrenoceptor responses in the affected areas. Since SV is resistant to conventional forms of therapy, its management represents a challenge for dermatologists. Low energy helium-neon lasers (He-Ne laser, wavelength 632.8 nm) have been employed as a therapeutic instrument in many clinical situations, including vitiligo management and repair of nerve injury. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of He-Ne lasers in treating SV, and determine their effects on the repair of sympathetic nerve dysfunction. Forty patients with stable-stage SV on the head and/or neck were enrolled in this study. He-Ne laser irradiation was administered locally at 3.0 J/cm2 with point stimulation once or twice weekly. Cutaneous microcirculatory assessments in six SV patients were performed using a laser Doppler flowmeter. The sympathetic adrenoceptor response of cutaneous microcirculation was determined by measuring cutaneous blood flow before, during and after iontophoresis with sympathomimetic drugs (phenylephrine, clonidine and propranolol). All measurements of microcirculation obtained at SV lesions were simultaneously compared with contralateral normal skin, both before and after He-Ne laser treatment. After an average of 17 treatment sessions, initial repigmentation was noticed in the majority of patients. Marked repigmentation (> 50%) was observed in 60% of patients with successive treatments. Cutaneous blood flow was significantly higher at SV lesions compared with contralateral skin, but this was normalized after He-Ne laser treatment. In addition, the abnormal decrease in cutaneous blood flow in response to clonidine was improved by He-Ne laser therapy. Our study showed that He-Ne laser therapy is an effective treatment for SV by normalizing dysfunctions of cutaneous blood flow and adrenoceptor responses in SV patients. Thus, the beneficial effects of He-Ne laser therapy may be mediated in part by a reparative effect on sympathetic nerve dysfunction.

J Invest Dermatol. 2006 Sep;126(9):2119-26. Epub 2006 May 11.

Low-energy helium-neon laser induces locomotion of the immature melanoblasts and promotes melanogenesis of the more differentiated melanoblasts: recapitulation of vitiligo repigmentation in vitro.

Lan CC, Wu CS, Chiou MH, Hsieh PC, Yu HS.

Department of Dermatology, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, ROC.


Helium-neon laser (He-Ne Laser, 632.8 nm) is a low-energy laser that has therapeutic efficacy on various clinical conditions. Our previous study has demonstrated efficacy of He-Ne laser on vitiligo, a disease characterized by skin depigmentation. To regain skin tone on vitiligo lesions, the process began by the migration of the immature melanoblasts (MBs) to the epidermis, which was followed by their functional development to produce melanin. In this study, we investigated the physiologic effects of He-Ne laser irradiation on two MB cell lines: the immature NCCmelb4 and the more differentiated NCCmelan5. The intricate interactions between MBs with their innate extracelluar matrix, fibronectin, were also addressed. Our results showed that He-Ne laser irradiation enhanced NCCmelb4 mobility via enhanced phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase expression and promoted melanogenesis in NCCmelan5. In addition, He-Ne laser decreased the affinity between NCCmelb4 and fibronectin, whereas the attachment of NCCmelan5 to fibronectin increased. The alpha5beta1 integrin expression on NCCmelb4 cells was enhanced by He-Ne laser. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that He-Ne laser induced different physiologic changes on MBs at different maturation stages and recapitulated the early events during vitiligo repigmentation process brought upon by He-Ne laser in vitro.

J-Invest Dermatol. 2003; 120 (1): 56-64.

Helium-neon laser irradiation stimulates migration and proliferation in melanocytes and proliferation in melanocytes and induces repigmentation in segmental-type vitiligo.

Yu-Hsin-Su, Wu-Chieh-Shan, Yu-Chia-Li, Kao-Ying-Hsien, Chiou-Min-Hsi.

This study sought to determine the theoretical basis and clinical evidence for the effectiveness of helium-neon lasers in treating vitiligo. Cultured keratinocytes and fibroblasts were irradiated with 0.5-1.5 J per cm2 helium-neon laser radiation. The effects of the helium-neon laser on melanocyte growth and proliferation were investigated. The results of this in vitro study revealed a significant increase in basic fibroblast growth factor release from both keratinocytes and fibroblasts and a significant increase in nerve growth factor release from keratinocytes. Medium from helium-neon laser irradiated keratinocytes stimulated (3H)thymidine uptake and proliferation of cultured melanocytes. Furthermore, melanocyte migration was enhanced either directly by helium-neon laser irradiation or indirectly by the medium derived from helium-neon laser treated keratinocytes. Thirty patients with segmental-type vitiligo on the head and/or neck were enrolled in this study. Helium-neon laser light was administered locally at 3.0 J per cm2 with point stimulation once or twice weekly. The percentage of repigmented area was used for clinical evaluation of effectiveness. After an average of 16 treatment sessions, initial repigmentation was noticed. Marked repigmentation (>50%) was observed in 60% of patients with successive treatments.


Leila Ataie M.D., Gholamreza Esmaeeli Djavid

Vitiligo patches were treated by using a 630-nm GaAlAs laser (20 mW & 1 J/cm2), twice a week for a maximum of 24 treatments. Patients were followed for 9 months and the effect of treatment was evaluated. Six patients could be evaluated for the purposes of this analysis. Their ages ranged from 11 to 46 years. Decreases in surface area of depigmented lesions were seen ranging between 25% and 75%. Pigmented stippling within depigmented lesions occurred in all patients. In two patients of repigmented of previously depigmented hair were seen. Only one patients experienced arrest of progression of disease after 24 sessions of treatment. LPLT is without side effects and probably effective in repigmentation of vitiligo but has minimal effect of progression of disease.