What is PRP Therapy?

What is PRP Therapy?
Hair Transplantation

What is PRP Therapy?

What is PRP or “Platelet-Rich Plasma”?

Contemporary medical science has discovered the great potential for the human body’s ability to heal itself, as a vast treasure trove of medical treatments for various ailments.  PRP or Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a very promising type of regenerative medicine therapy that promises to harness the body’s own ability to heal itself and amplifies the natural growth factors already contained in the blood to heal the body and its ailments.

Although PRP treatment is not a definitively proven medical treatment, and while it is also not approved as a medical treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nonetheless, its popularity supersedes its proven results as prominent athletes like Tiger Woods and tennis star Rafael Nadal have been known to use PRP injections in order to boost healing abilities, after injuries.

Furthermore, there are some in the medical community contemplate that PRP treatment has the potential to trigger natural hair growth and maintain growth by increasing blood supply to the hair follicles; thus, growing the thickness of the hair shaft. Thus, it is usually seen that PRP treatment, generally, follows after a hair transplant surgery, with the belief that it would boost the natural growth factors and allow more grafted hair follicles to thrive, in their newly transplants site. Although, it must be kept in mind that there isn’t much definitive medical research to prove that PRP can be an effective hair loss treatment option.

 

What is plasma and what are platelets?

Generally speaking, Plasma is the liquid part of the blood which comprises of water and proteins that provide a medium for the red and white blood cells and platelets to circulate throughout the body. “Thrombocytes” or also known as platelets are blood cells that act as a clotting agent for blood and thus provides the essential therapeutic growth factors to the blood. 

Now, medical experts believe that platelets play a vital role in the body’s natural healing ability, as their activation can stimulate the body to grow new and healthy cells and thereby promoting healing. Thus, researchers believe that injecting concentrated amounts of platelet-rich plasma into damaged tissue can kick start the body’s natural growth factors and help the body in healing faster.

 

What are the purposes of PRP injections?

This discovery of potential therapeutic benefits of Platelet Rich Plasma has prompted researchers to apply PRP treatments to various medical conditions and diseases.  

  • Hair loss: Over the last decade, it can be seen that several medical professionals stand by PRP injections to the scalp as a safe and less invasive treatment to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. Medical experts believe that PRP therapy can help in the effective treatment of “Androgenic Alopecia”, also known as “Male Pattern Baldness”.

 

  • Tendons Repair: Tendons are the tough thick bands of tissue that connect muscles to the bones, and usually heal very slowly, after an injury. However, doctors have successfully employed PRP therapy for the treatment of chronic tendon problems, such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis at the ankle, and jumper’s knee, or pain in the patellar tendon in the knee.

 

  • Acute injuries: Similarly, medical professionals, have over the years used PRP injections to treat acute sports injuries as well; such as pulled hamstring muscles or knee sprains.

 

  • Postsurgical repair: It is common for surgeons to recommend PRP therapy, after surgery as a means to repair torn tendons (such as a rotator cuff tendon in the shoulder) or ligaments (such as the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL).

 

  • Osteoarthritis: In controlled studies, doctors have found potential for PRP injections therapy coupled with “Hyaluronic acid” as an effective therapy course, if injected into the knees of patients suffering from Osteoarthritis. However, it must be noted that the medical trails were of a very small group of patients and the need for larger medical trials is needed for conclusive results.  

All in all, it must be noted, however, PRP therapy seems promising, none of the potential PRP applications has definitive proven medical results to be conclusive. 

 

How do you prepare for PRP injections?

Generally speaking, it takes a few steps to prepare the PRP injections for the patients, suffering from hair loss.

PRP can be injected in different ways:

  • PRP can be injected or applied during a hair transplant, or other surgery.
  • Sometimes, a topical numbing solution can be applied to your scalp before the PRP injection, in order to reduce the patient’s discomfort.
  • Other times, a local anesthetic can also be mixed with the PRP injection to reduce any patient’s discomfort.

 

What is the PRP injection process?

Typically, a patient can expect the following with a regular PRP injection therapy session:

  • A medical professional would draw the patients’ blood, from one vein and let the blood run into a special plasma rich platelet centrifuge separator machine; which would senate the platelet-rich plasma from the blood, which will collect separately and let the rest of the patients’ blood run back to their body via another catheter, placed into a separate vein of the patient.

 

  • This separation process may take up to takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

  • Once, enough plasma has separated, the medical professional then prepares them into injections to be applied to the affected area.

 

  • It is common for doctors to employ imaging machines, such as ultrasound, to pinpoint the exact and specific areas for injection, such as the tendon. Thus, it is very important for the doctor to accurately ascertain the damaged area, for better results.

 

  • Generally, this entire process usually takes around 60 to 80 minutes in total.

 

What are the potential side effects of PRP?

It must be kept in mind, that as PRP therapy involves injecting a substance into the skin, there are always chances of potential side effects. Even though, PRP is autologous in nature, meaning it only contains substances that come directly from your own body; it reduces the risks for an allergic reaction that can occur from injecting other medications, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid.

However, having said that there are risks from the PRP injection themselves, which can include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve injuries
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Tissue damage

Thus, for any potential patients, it is important to discuss these potential risks with their doctor, in order to minimize any risk factors.

 

What are the risks of PRP for hair loss?

It is of utmost importance that patients report all medications that they are taking, which may include supplements and herbs; prior to the PRP therapy, to their medical professionals, in order to reduce any risk of potential side effects.

However, a patient may also be discouraged from having a PRP treatment if they;

  • Are on blood thinners
  • Are a heavy smoker
  • Have a history of alcohol or drug misuse

 

What conditions of diseases can disqualify a patient from getting PRP therapy?

  • Acute or chronic infections
  • Cancer
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic skin disease
  • Hemodynamic instability
  • Hyperfibrinogenemia
  • Metabolic disorder
  • Platelet dysfunction syndromes
  • Systemic disorder
  • Sepsis
  • Low platelet count
  • Thyroid disease

 

Final Conclusion

As far as patients who are concerned about hair loss, and have exhausted medical treatments such as Rogaine and Propecia, then, PRP therapy coupled with a hair transplant surgery can be a viable and permanent solution to hair loss.

However, it must be kept in mind that there is limited clinical proof that PRP for hair loss actually works, even though, there may be many who would believe that PRP is a relatively safe and effective therapy for reversing hair loss and stimulating new hair growth.


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