Electrocautery Needling Technique Promotes Repigmentation in Vitiligo

Vitiligo on chest
Vitiligo on chest
Electrocautery needling may be a complement to conventional refractory vitiligo therapies thanks to its high repigmentation rate, simple operating procedure, and low therapeutic cost.

Vitiligo was effectively treated with electrocautery needling technique according to the results of a case report published in Dermatologic Therapy.

To assess the potential of electrocautery needling on repigmentation of vitiligo lesions, the therapy was tested on a woman 32 years of age with a 2-year history of vitiligo localized to bilateral breast. Conventional therapies including topical halometasone, 0.1% tacrolimus, and 308-nm excimer light ceased growth of the lesions during the previous year, but had no effect on repigmentation.

Conventional therapies were replaced with electrocautery needling therapy to a depth of approximately 1mm with pricking points spaced approximately 3-5mm apart; therapy was administered twice weekly for 3 months.

Within 3 weeks of initiation of the electrocautery needling therapy, repigmented islands in perifollicular pattern were observed within the lesions. Within 3 months, repigmentation had progressed by 30%. Despite the termination of electrocautery needling therapy after 3 months, approximately 50% to 70% repigmentation was observed 1 year after the final treatment.

Limitations to this study include its case study design.

The results of this study suggest that electrocautery needling therapy may be an effective and inexpensive method for repigmentation in patients with vitiligo in conjunction with conventional therapies. The investigators wrote that “electrocautery needling could act as an adjuvant therapy to complement the conventional therapies in refractory vitiligo due to its high repigmentation rate, simple operating procedure and low therapeutic cost.”

Further application of the therapy with a larger sample size are warranted, the researchers believe. Minor mechanical injury may induce repigmentation, although the exact mechanism of this treatment remains unknown and warrants additional study.


Yang L, Wong PM, Yang L, Katayama I, Wu H, Zhang H. Vitiligo effectively treated with electrocautery needling technique. [published August 6, 2020]. Dermatol Ther. doi:10.1111/dth.14154