Platelet Rich Plasma in Treatment of Hair Loss
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a therapy that uses the patient’s own blood derived platelets, in a concentrated form. Platelets are the body’s most potent healing cells, producing a variety of growth factors and other cytokines that strongly stimulate tissue repair and regeneration. To date, PRP therapy has found its application in the treatment of injuries of nerves and heart muscle, in osteoarthritis, and for tendinitis. In plastic surgery, it is used for facial rejuvenation, and the treatment of stretch marks and chronic wounds.
In recent years, PRP therapy has been advocated as a treatment for hair loss, where it seems to accelerate the growth of longer and thicker hair. It also has been found to reduce the rate of hair loss in certain individuals. Because of its ability as well to reduce inflammation, PRP can be beneficial in treating such inflammatory conditions such as alopecia areata.
Before and eight months after PRP injection with microneedling for a patient with alopecia totalis (nearly totalis).
We are unsure of how she achieved such an impressive result, but it does demonstrate the potential power of PRP.
Primarily developed by a research scientist colleague of the Women’s Center for Hair Loss doctors, the technique for obtaining PRP is by spinning down 60 to 80ccs of the patient’s blood in a centrifuge at speeds that isolate the platelets and growth factor proteins. The percentage of platelets and growth factors in plasma is then increased by 3 to 10 times. The favored system seems to be the Angel® system, which has computers that assure the ideal concentration of platelets is achieved. The 6 to 8ccs of PRP that is obtained is then put into the scalp at the level of the hair follicles through multiple tiny injections, then activated using a derma-roller that releases local growth factors.
The activated PRP stimulates hair follicles to grow, leading to the formation of new blood vessels which supply the oxygen and nutrients needed for healthy growth and development of hair. To enhance the efficacy of the PRP treatment, we will commonly add ACell, an acellular matrix obtained from porcine (pig) bladders that seem to have special cellular regenerative properties. This is a totally safe additive that improves the results of the treatment.
PRP therapy takes about two hours to perform, including the preparation of the product, the anesthetizing of the scalp, the administration of the product, and recovery time. The patient can return to all regular activities after leaving the office, with the only restriction being the avoidance of anti-inflammatories for three days afterwards. It is usually advised that the treatment be repeated after six months, then every year. Adverse side effects are extremely rare, and the PRP treatment can be combined with any other therapy for hair loss.
Ideal candidates for this therapy are men and women in the early phase of hair thinning, or with thin hair, or with diffuse hair loss.
While usually administered as a stand-alone therapy, PRP therapy may be combined with a hair transplant procedure where it may have an important role because platelets are essential in wound healing. Growth factors stimulate the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the creation of new collagen. White blood cells, which are normally defensive cells of the body, are also stimulated, so there is no bacteria in this area. All of these effects can accelerate the healing and recovery on both the recipient and the donor area, and stimulate the growth of transplanted hair. PRP may also decrease bleeding and bruising, reduce shock hair loss, and even increase the regrowth percentage of transplanted hairs.