UAE: Baby born with big dark patch of skin gets first-of-its-kind treatment for rare condition

The patient was born with a giant nevus that covered almost 20 percent of her upper body


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by

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 6 May 2023, 12:14 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 May 2023, 12:58 PM

In a medical breakthrough, a team of doctors in Dubai successfully treated a newborn with a giant nevus – a rare skin condition that affects only 1 in 500,000 people worldwide. This is the first time such a procedure has been performed in Dubai, marking a significant milestone for the country's healthcare sector.

The patient was born with a giant nevus that covered almost 20 percent of her upper body. Her parents were worried about the medical ailment she was born with.

After consulting with various doctors, they were referred to a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and surgeons at Saudi German Hospital in Dubai who specialise in treating skin conditions. The parents were worried of the risk of it turning into malignant melanoma, impairing their child's psychological development, and even aesthetic impairment.

Operating on a newborn?

After intensive interdisciplinary consultation between paediatrics, dermatology, plastic surgery, and anaesthesia, detailed discussions with the parents, and a second opinion in other paediatric hospitals, the parents decided to go ahead to perform the procedure. The team of doctors developed a comprehensive treatment plan that involved multiple treatments.

“The best way to treat a giant nevus is to remove it. For limited sizes, this is done after the first year of life. For the treatment of the larger changes, there is a unique option of ablating the superficial skin layers with a large part of the changed skin cells within the first two weeks of life,” said Prof Dr Robert Hierner, consultant plastic surgeon in Dubai.

Ablation of superficial skin is a treatment method that involves the removal of a thin layer of skin using various techniques such as lasers, chemicals, or surgical instruments.

During the ablation process, the targeted area of the skin is numbed with a local anaesthetic to minimise pain and discomfort. Then, a special device or tool removes the outermost layer of skin, which contains dead cells, debris, and other unwanted materials.

This is a unique condition because of incomplete skin maturation at birth. Cells with brown pigment (Melanocyts) will descend to their normal location in the lower part of the dermis and even the upper parts of the subcutaneous tissue after 2 - 6 weeks of birth. Therefore this procedure should be conducted as early as possible, said Dr Hierner.

Prof Dr Robert Hierner
Prof Dr Robert Hierner

The doctor further said that most pigment cells can be removed within six weeks as they are still lying superficially, and post that these cells will move deeper, after which they cannot be removed.

The procedure was successful, and the post-operative phase was free of complications. The team of anaesthesia for newborns and follow-up care in the children's intensive care unit by Dr Younis and his peerless nursing team contributed massively. The child was discharged from the hospital a week after the procedure.

The team of doctors who treated the patient now hopes to use their expertise to help other patients suffering from similar skin conditions. They believe that the success of this procedure will inspire other doctors and medical professionals in Dubai to push the boundaries of what is possible in healthcare.

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