Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy for Hair Growth
There is a new, non-surgical method of stimulating hair growth called Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP. PRP therapy for hair loss is a treatment that involves withdrawing a patient’s own blood, processing it so that only the enriched cells (platelet-rich plasma) remain, and injecting it into the scalp. According to some studies, PRP contains essential proteins that stimulate natural hair growth.
PRP therapy is a boost to thinning hair, or hair in the terminal stages, and can be utilized in conjunction with hair transplantation to supplement hair follicles with hopes of increasing natural hair growth and stimulation. Excitement over this new therapy should be modified with the understanding that PRP therapy will not induce new hair growth in areas of the scalp that are completely bald. PRP is most effective in areas of the scalp with thinning hair, vellus hairs, or mild to moderate hair loss.
What are Platelets?
Platelets are biological constituents of blood, along with red and white blood cells. Unlike red and white blood cells, platelets are probably best known as components of the blood clotting system. When an injury disrupts a blood vessel and causes bleeding, platelets are quickly activated and contribute to the formation of a clot that stems the flow of blood.
However, platelets are more than just first-line responders to bleeding injuries.
Every platelet is a biochemical storehouse of regulatory, signaling, and growth factor molecules that participate in recovery and healing of tissue as well as emergency response to injury. Growth-factor molecules associated with platelets shore-up tissue in areas of blood vessels and veins.
What Is PRP Therapy?
PRP is blood plasma containing a high concentration of platelets—many times greater than occurs normally in blood. Platelets are a natural source of growth factors that regenerate molecules, reduce inflammation, and are significant contributors to cell proliferation. Seven growth factors exist in normal platelets. The growth factors enter the hair bulb circulation and stimulate the stem cells. This leads to changes in the follicle.
While initial studies reveal PRP therapy to be a promising new form of treatment for hair loss, more research is needed to determine its true efficacy. While PRP is in the early stages of scientific research in hair restoration, PRP is not meant to replace current FDA approved therapies such as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), finasteride and minoxidil. And while it may not work for all hair loss patients, the majority of those who have had PRP therapy have reported mild to significant new hair growth (reversal of miniaturized hairs) in regions of the scalp where thin hair coverage was predominant.
PRP is “autologous”, meaning that it comes from the patient’s own blood that is similar to the practice of donating your own blood before a surgical process should a transfusion be needed. A small amount of blood for PRP procedure is drawn from the patient’s vein in the arm.
Because PRP is autologous, meaning your own blood, it lacks potential for causing a foreign-body immunologic reaction. In other words, PRP is immunologically neutral.
The American Association of Blood Banks technical manual states that “platelet-rich plasma is separated from whole blood by ‘light-spin’ centrifugation and subsequently the platelets are concentrated by ‘heavy-spin’ centrifugation with removal of the supernatant plasma.”
How the blood is processed
The tubes containing your withdrawn blood are placed in a centrifuge and spun for ten minutes.
The centrifuging “spins down” the red and white blood cells and platelets and concentrates them at various levels in the tubes. Blood plasma that is rich in platelets is drawn off from the appropriate level. After the whirling of blood, the separated plasma contains 4 to 8 times the number of platelets per cubic centimeter found in normal plasma. With a little additional preparation, the PRP is ready for application or injection.
Injecting PRP in the scalp
When the PRP injection procedure begins, many surgeons apply vibration to the scalp. It numbs the scalp by confusing the scalp nerves and reduces the pain receptors during injection. You will be lying comfortably on a surgical table prepared for the procedure. The highly concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected into the scalp in a skillful pattern to allow for the greatest results.
Once the injections are completed in the area of the scalp where there is thinning or lack of hair, the scalp is cleansed and you are free to drive home without any assistance. No sedation or any medication is given during the procedure to inhibit your ability to drive or use machinery.
Complications, Contraindications to PRP
The PRP treatment is completed in 1 hour or less, after which the patient can resume normal activities. It is completely safe, painless, and does not have any side- effects. After the treatment, no special precaution is needed.
To reinvigorate dormant hair follicles, platelet growth factors can “wake up” sleeping hair follicles and begin the production of new hair. Enhanced hair growth and hair diameter is noted over the next few months.
Whether you are looking for additional hair stimulation, or to have hair surgery with the addition of PRP, results tend to vary from patient to patient. PRP as a nonsurgical option, offering patients with thinning hair and miniaturization, a chance of improving hair caliber and thickness.
To learn more about PRP Therapy for hair loss with Dr. Friedman, please contact our office at: Phone: 480.500.7443