Hair loss and thinning hair are common problems across all genders. About 50 million men and 30 million women have lost at least some hair. It’s especially common after reaching age 50 or as a result of stress.
And there are seemingly hundreds of different hair loss treatments with varying levels of reliability and success. But some are based on much more solid science than others.
One of these treatments is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP is a substance drawn from your blood and injected into your scalp that can purportedly help heal bodily tissues, including follicles from which your hairs grow.
PRP is extracted from your blood using a centrifuge-like mechanism that can separate the substance from your blood and increase the concentration of specific proteins that promote healing.
This makes PRP potentially usable on its own for the treatment of tendon injuries and osteoarthritisTrusted Source.
Research also suggests that PRP injections can help treat androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness).
Let’s get into what exactly the research says about the success rate for PRP treatment for hair loss, whether PRP has any side effects, and what results you can expect.
Quite recently, doctors have started treating hair loss issues among patients with the use of platelet rich plasma. To carry it out successfully, the doctor usually obtains a certain volume of blood from the patient’s system and then spins it to separate the platelets from other component cells of the blood. The separated platelets are then injected back to the plasma section of the blood.
The underlying theory behind the treatment stems from the richness of platelets in specialised protein cells, which can aid in healing processes. The treatment methodology takes support in the idea that platelet rich blood can stimulate newer and fresher hair growth
PRP hair growth treatment is gaining standardisation among medical professionals and the present scope of the treatment is envisioned with three treatment sessions. Results expected from this treatment can begin to show comprehensive progress within a span of three months. Complimentary sittings and treatment may be required in the subsequent months, depending on the individual case.
What is PRP Hair Restoration?
Plasma is the liquid portion of your blood. Composed primarily of water and proteins, your plasma acts as a carrier for white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, allowing these cells to travel throughout the body. Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are the smallest cells in the blood. They are responsible for forming blood clots and play other roles in wound and growth healing.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves injections of plasma that has a high concentration of a patient’s own platelets. While initially used by hematologists, this injection has since grown in application to support natural wound healing of ligaments, muscles, tendons, and joints, essentially using a patient’s own healing system. This has become increasingly popular in sports medicine, though other medical fields also using PRP therapy include cardiac and pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, and ophthalmology.
Wounds are known to be high in proinflammatory markers that can impair healing, and they may also have high protease activity, which inhibits the concentration of growth factors. Platelet-rich plasma acts as a source for growth factors while also encouraging cell division, the formation of new blood vessels, and cell migration.
Platelet-rich plasma treatment has also been applied to cases of hair loss by injecting platelet-rich plasma directly into the scalp. Some studies have shown successful hair growth, though the exact mechanisms remain unclear, but studies suggest that dermal papilla cells produce a variety of growth factors, including IGF-1, FGF-7, hepatocyte growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor. These growth factors are responsible for supporting hair follicles and maintaining the anagen (active growth) phase of the hair cycle. By upregulating these specific growth factors in the dermal papilla, platelet-rich plasma could potentially contribute to a longer anagen phase.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
Physicians began using PRP therapy about a decade ago to speed up the healing process in damaged joints after injury or surgery.
During the treatment, a technician draws your blood and spins it in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets and plasma. Doctors then inject the plasma, which helps repair blood vessels, promote cell growth and wound healing, and stimulate collagen production.
Doctors began using PRP in dermatology after researchers found that high concentrations of platelets in plasma cells help promote hair growth by prolonging the growing phase of the hair cycle.
Doctors inject plasma into the scalp where hair loss has occurred. They typically administer injections monthly for three months, then spread them out over about three or four months for up to two years. The injection schedule will depend on your genetics, pattern and amount of hair loss, age and hormones.