ReCell, At A Glance

  • Best Results1+ sessions
  • Treatment Recovery7-14 days
  • Procedure Time90 min
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist, nurse
  • Duration of ResultsVariable
  • AnaestheticVariable
  • Back to Work7+ days
  • Cost$$$$ Partial Medicare Reimbursement


ReCell is a procedure aimed at repopulating pigment cells called melanocytes. It is most frequently used to treat white scars from acne, picking, as well as burns & stable vitiligo. Re-pigmentation is achieved when other pigment cells are transferred to scar tissue. It can take 6 to 12 months to see results. 

FactsFacts on ReCell

  • This treatment is best used to repigment white scars from trauma, inflammation, as well as caustic & thermal burns
  • White marks from acne scars can also be treated with ReCell
  • Stable vitiligo can also be treated with ReCell
  • Complete re-pigmentation may take one year or longer depending on the severity & surface area
  • I use ReCell as a last line treatment in most cases as other treatments are more effective & cost effective

What is ReCell technology?

ReCell is an Australian invention pioneered by Plastic Surgeon, Dr Fiona Wood. It is now used Internationally.

ReCell uses your own skin cells to repigment white scars from trauma, acne, picking, burns, & infection. It can also be a last line treatment for vitiligo.

ReCell Cell therapy involves transplanting cells from either your own body to re-colour the skin on the face or body and to repair skin damage. The transplanted cells boosts pigment production to restore the skin’s colour. The specialised cells in the skin responsible for forming colour are called melanocytes, so these are the specific cells which are harvested in a laboratory and injected or sprayed into the damaged area to boost colour production.

ReCell takes about 90 minutes to perform, and one week to recover. In the majority of cases repigmentation (re-colouring) is permanent.

What conditions can ReCell treat?

ReCell is most useful in repigment skin. Loss of skin colour can occur with conditions including –

  • White Acne scars; known as hypopigmented scars, can be extremely difficult to treat.  The loss of skin pigment cells gives rise to white areas. ReCell technology can re-colour these areas over time. (Note: this is my last line treatment for white scars, see the page on white acne scars to understand the treatment options available).
  • Traumatic Picking; most commonly from drug induced psychosis such a ICE or meth. I approach these scars much like how I would for hypopigmented acne scars.
  • Vitiligo: Vitiligo presents are white patches on the skin. The majority of patients will not need ReCell therapy to regain skin pigmentation. The use of anti-inflammatory creams coupled with narrowband phototherapy can re-colour skin in the majority of vitiligo cases. ReCell is only indicated if a patient fails conventional repigmentation and vitiligo is stable.
  • Burns & trauma scars: The cause of white scars following burns and trauma is similar to acne scars. These areas lack melanocytes or skin pigment cells. ReCell can both remodel scars, and re-pigment the white patches. Other causes of skin lightening that may respond to ReCell include zoster- pox- shingles scars as well as hypopigmentation from laser & chemical burns. The success rate is on a case to case basis.

What causes white scars & patches?

White scars are due to loss of both melanin (skin pigment) & melanocytes or pigment producing cells.  This can be due to

  • Trauma, including picking acne (acne excoriee), dermatillomania (habitual picking of skin) as well as drug induced picking, most common with Ice.
  • Inflammation from acne, chicken pox, and zoster (shingles)
  • Immune mediated pigment loss such as vitiligo, & lupus
  • Burns from lasers, IPL, chemical peels & heating sources

What is involved in ReCell treatment?

The 5 steps involved is as follows:

  1. Harvesting of donor cells. I harvest a very small piece of your own healthy skin, termed the ‘donor skin’. This is approximately the size and thickness of 2 postage stamps. The donor skin is most commonly taken from the thigh or back of your ear.
  2. Separation of skin cells. Skin is then carefully placed into a processing unit that separates the healthy growing skin cells which are then suspended in a liquid.This ‘cell suspension’ contains all of the skin cells necessary to promote healthy skin growth: keratinocyte cells that form the basis of healthy skin, fibroblasts which produce collagen providing texture and ‘fullness’ and melanocytes that produce skin colour (melanin). This suspension contains only your own skin cells. It is your body’s natural regeneration processes that provide all that is needed for the regrowth of healthy new skin.
  3. Recipient area preparation. The area to be treated is prepared using a laser to remove the aged, damaged or discoloured skin. I also employ other techniques such as microneedling or dermabrasion to the recipient site/s.
  4. Application of cell suspension: Your healthy reactivated skin cells in the cell suspension are then sprayed over the prepared area. The cells in the sprayed suspension multiply and repopulate and over a short amount of time forming new skin in 7-8 days. During this time the treated area will be protected with a special dressing.
  5. Stimulation of pigment cells: Skin pigmentation is maximal at 3-6 months following ReCell therapy. You will be advised to undertake phototherapy or light therapy to stimulate the donor melanocytes to produce pigment. It takes several months before they awaken & up to 1 year to see the final results. 

Davin’s Viewpoint on ReCell

Patient selection is critical for ReCell treatment to be successful. Firstly, let’s consider vitiligo. When do I recommend ReCell treatment? There are 3 factors that determine how good ReCell works for vitiligo.

Firstly, vitiligo must be stable. This means no changes in the areas involved for at least 15 months. Secondly the area involved should be small, realistically half a palm size. It is better to place a high concentration of pigment cells in a small area, rather than dilution of application. Thirdly, patient compliance must be high, namely a will to undertake phototherapy for at least 6, preferably 12 months. This gives the highest rate of success as UV stimulates the donor cells to produce pigment.

ReCell can also be considered for the treatment of white, hypopigmented scars, most commonly secondary to acne, traumatic picking, caustic, thermal or chemical burns. ReCell replenishes depleted pigment cells in scars, and stimulates repigmentation over the months. Most patients undergo one treatment. Once skin colour returns, the re-pigmentation is complete and permanent. My algorithm is that the majority of patients will usually respond to more cost-effective treatments with fractional lasers & pigmentent stimulating topicals, ReCell is reserved for non-responsive cases.

Join the conversation

Join Dr Davin Lim on Instagram to stay up to date


Enquire now!

Get In Touch

Quick Contact

Dr Lim has unparalleled experience in dermatology. Fill in the form below and he will get back to you with your query
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.