What is platelet-rich plasma or PRP treatment?
By now you’re probably familiar with, or at least have heard of the “vampire facial,” a skin treatment that essentially uses your own blood to help facilitate a glowing, youthful complexion. What you probably haven’t heard of is that there’s a similar treatment for hair loss, and yes, it requires your blood, too. It’s called platelet-rich plasma, a.k.a. PRP. Our blood is made of two main components, red blood cells and plasma. The plasma contains white blood cells and platelets, which are rich in growth factors.
Growth factors, in a sense, play the role of messengers, signalling skin cells to function. In fact, they’ve been used in medicine to treat a range of health issues, including arthritis, signs of ageing, etc. The good news for anyone with thinning hair, is that growth factors can help stimulate the activity of the hair follicles and promote new hair growth.
The use of PRP is a great treatment option for hair loss because it has a number of scientifically based articles showing its efficacy increasing hair count, hair thickness and the growth phase of the hair cycle. The treatment has been gaining popularity around the world within the last few years. As with most procedures, there is a careful process involved in using PRP for hair regrowth, beginning with a standard blood draw from the patient’s arm. Next the tube of blood is put into a machine called a centrifuge, which spins the blood tube to separate out the red blood cells from the plasma. The plasma, rich in platelets, is then injected directly into the scalp at the level of the hair follicles. The process is meticulous — with injections beginning across the scalp, approximately at every half inch over the area of thinning hair — but typically, the entire procedure takes less than a half hour.
It might sound scary (blood draws and needles?!), but for the most part, there’s no real risk associated with PRP. Most patients get injections without any numbing, as there is minimal discomfort. However, cool air or ice packs may be used to minimize pain. In the event there is any discomfort, Paracetamol after the procedure is also recommended. Bruising can occur, but usually resolves within a week or two. Minimal downtime, if any, is needed. We personally recommend a warm shower, as the hot temperature will enhance blood flow and circulation throughout the scalp.
Who does it work for?
Anyone experiencing hair loss is essentially a good candidate for PRP treatments, but those with early hair loss tend to respond best. PRP is best used for patients with androgenic alopecia, which is a genetically determined type of hair thinning that typically occurs along the top of the head. In women, this might look like a widening part with normal hair thickness at the back of the head. It has fantastic results for acne and face rejuvenation as well.
For best results, consistency is key. Treatments are typically performed once a month for the first 3-4 months, and then every 3-6 months thereafter, depending on the individual patient’s response and results. Following this protocol, anticipated results can first be seen within two to three months. The first result that patients usually note is decreased hair shedding, followed by early regrowth and increased length of hair. The general consensus is that receiving treatments every 3-6 months on a long-term basis are optimal for continuing to stimulate the growth factors and stem cells that are associated with regrowth and stopping hair fallout. It’s important to keep in mind that PRP can, and should, be a part of a multifaceted program to treat hair thinning and loss.