What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelet rich plasma therapy is where plasma in the blood is reinforced with additional platelets. Platelets are structures in the blood that are even smaller than both red cells and white cells. When a blood vessel is injured, these tiny structures are able to plug into the area of injury and stop the bleeding. Platelets are a vital part of the coagulation process, a set of chemical chain reactions that begins as soon as the body is wounded.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
Platelet rich plasma therapy is a process that uses the body’s own blood platelets to treat a wide variety of conditions. Here is how platelet rich plasma therapy works:
- PRP is taken from your body in the form of a blood sample. The blood is transferred to a vile.
- Using a complex laboratory centrifuge, the PRP is separated and removed from the blood. The centrifuge rapidly rotates the blood in a container until the centrifugal force removes the PRP from the blood (much like separating cream from milk).
- The PRP is then injected into the site of injury. Typically, the process takes less than an hour to complete. Noticeable results can take anywhere from weeks to months.
There are additional steps and additives that can be involved with PRP but this varies greatly from clinic to clinic.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy has been proven to effective in treating the following conditions:
- Tendon injuries
- Ligament and muscle injuries
- Surgery recoveries
- Certain forms of arthritis (especially in the knee).
- Hair loss (according to South Korean studies)
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy and Hair Restoration
A 2012 Korean study states that injecting PRP into the skin of mice caused hair growth within three weeks. They theorize that PRP is able to prolong the anagen (growth) phase by preventing the dermal papillae cells from undergoing apoptosis (cell death). Dermal papillae are structures under the follicles that provide a connection to the blood supply so that hairs may grow. Instead of undergoing apoptosis, platelet rich plasma therapy seems to cause the dermal papillae cells to undergo an increase in mitotic activity (cell division), which increases the blood flow to the follicle itself. Furthermore, the PRP allows for the growth and regeneration of epithelial cells, which are cells that compose of the lining of a bodily cavity, such as hair follicles.
In addition, the study suggests that PRP can be used after the hair transplant so as to minimize the amount of blood lost as well as to stimulate a quick surgical healing. After the PRP is injected into the scalp, the enriched blood platelets will prevent bleeding and allow the wound to regenerate more quickly.
Lastly, the study claims that more follicular units are able to be successfully extracted when PRP is used during male pattern baldness (MPH) surgery, most likely referring to follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedures.
Who is Not Eligible for Plate-Rich Plasma Therapy?
PRP is not recommended for patients who are any of the following:
- Heavy smokers
- Heavy imbibers of alcohol
- Prone to infection
- Prone to liver disease
- Have any coagulative disorders
- Have frequent skin disorders
- Have cancer
- Have any sort of metabolic disorder
What Can You Expect From PRP?
This is unknown as there are many different versions of platelet rich plasma therapy and no standard has been established. Some physicians such as Dr. Jerry Cooley of Charlotte, North Carolina have experimented extensively with PRP and have worked with additional materials to improve it's efficacy and consistency such as ACell Matristem. Dr. Cooley notes that PRP tends to work best in patients with general or diffused thinning which is especially beneficial for female patients that cannot undergo surgical hair restoration.