What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy?
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is concentrated blood plasma, which contains approximately three to five times the number of platelets found in normal circulating blood. In addition, it contains platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor (TGF) and other bioactive proteins that aid in wound healing and hair growth.
Growth factors in platelet rich plasma (PRP) have been used to facilitate wound healing. Recently, studies have suggested that PRP may also serve as a safe and effective treatment option for male and female pattern hair loss.
Human blood is comprised primarily of red blood cells (RBC), as well as white blood cells (WBC), platelets, and plasma. By initiating the first step of coagulation, platelets are the key to the body’s ability to heal wounds. It is thought that by increasing the platelet count in a wounded area, the body’s healing to that area would be accelerated – explaining the use of PRP in wound healing. Its possible effects on promoting hair growth make it potentially useful as both an adjuvant in hair transplantation and for the medical treatment of hair loss.
PRP for Treating Hair Loss
The Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) commonly used in hair restoration is “autologous,” meaning that it is derived from the patient’s own blood. To obtain PRP, a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the solid from liquid components and platelet activators, such as thrombin, calcium chloride and sometimes collagen, are added. The separated “solid” portion of the blood is PRP (platelet rich plasma). PRP is then placed into a syringe and injected into the area of hair loss. Prior to injecting PRP, doctors may create a ring-block of local anesthesia with 1% lidocaine. When used to stimulate hair growth, multiple treatment sessions are required. Some improvement (in reversing miniaturization) can be expected in the first 2-6 months. The treatments must be continued periodically to maintain any improvement.
If PRP therapy is appropriate, we can begin your PRP treatment at the time of your consultation. After the initial treatment session, we will administer the next two subsequent treatments at 4 week intervals. Additional treatments are given at three-month intervals depending on the response.
The treatments are administered by a physician and take about an hour. Patients are monitored photographically to assess the benefits of therapy. We will modify your treatment schedule based on your individual response to therapy.
Mechanism of Action
For the medical treatment of hair loss, practitioners use PRP to stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing the hair miniaturization seen in female pattern hair loss and in male pattern hair loss.
It is conjectured that the introduction of platelets and white blood cells through PRP can amplify the body’s naturally occurring wound-healing mechanism. It is also proposed that PRP can actually stimulate the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles.
What are the Indications for PRP?
PRP is used in many areas of medicine, including the acceleration of healing of tendon injuries, the treatment of osteoarthritis, in some aspects of dental work (i.e. jaw reconstruction), and in cardiovascular medicine. The concentrated form of plasma has been shown to accelerate wound healing and tissue repair and, thus, could potentially benefit hair restoration procedures.
In hair transplantation, PRP can be injected into or sprayed on the recipient site area to, theoretically, stimulate the healing of the transplanted grafts and into the donor area to facilitate healing of the donor incision and potentially minimize scar formation.
In the medical treatment of male and female pattern baldness, PRP can be injected into the balding scalp to potentially stimulate thin (miniaturized) hair to grow into thicker (terminal) hairs. Patients with thinning, but not totally bald, areas would be the best candidates.
PRP is a relatively new treatment for hair loss with a limited number of scientific studies to show its efficacy. The long-term benefits of PRP treatments for hair loss are not yet known. All patients receiving PRP treatments are followed closely to determine effectiveness and if other therapeutic modalities may be needed.
Autologous Platelet-Rich Plasma: A Potential Therapeutic Tool for Promoting Hair Growth