The increasing incidence of hair loss in the general population has led to the evolution of surgical and non-surgical approaches to hair restoration. But the success rate of such interventions and their cost-effectiveness has always been a debate amongst hair loss sufferers. Not to mention the side effects, such as sexual dysfunction and itching, produced by long-term use of many of these medications. As extensive research in modern medicine has produced new, promising less invasive techniques, the surgical approach to remedy hair loss is losing popularity. One such non-surgical method is the use of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for hair restoration. Here is a brief discussion of the science of PRP hair restoration.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)?
Platelets are the ‘fuel tank’ of growth factors in the body that play an important role in coagulation, immune system, the formation of new vessels and the healing of damaged tissues. Platelets are rich in growth-promoting factors including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), platelet-derived angiogenesis factor (PDAF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF).
Blood is composed of blood cells and plasma; the plasma contains white blood cells and platelets. PRP is made by centrifuging the patient’s blood to separate cells, plasma, and platelets. The platelets are then centrifuged again to obtain an optimal concentration of growth factors in PRP. The higher the concentration of growth factors, the better the results. A platelet concentration 2-6 times greater than blood is considered optimal for PRP.
Science of PRP Use:
PRP was first used during open-heart surgery in the 1970s. Later, the growth factors derived from centrifuged blood were found beneficial for patients with chronic skin ulcers. More research on PRP therapy found its clinical use for a wide variety of applications in oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopedic surgery, treatment of burns, hard-to-heal wounds and tissue engineering. PRP is widely used in orthopedic and sports medicine to relieve pain through the natural promotion of healing in musculoskeletal diseases such as tendonitis, arthritis, ligament sprains, and tears. PRP is therefore a proven treatment for regenerative medicine. The science of PRP hair restoration is supported by clinical studies.
How is it given? / What to expect during the procedure?
The PRP hair restoration is performed in our aesthetic clinic as an outpatient treatment. Blood is drawn from the patient’s arm, spun in a centrifuge machine that separates it into cells, platelet-poor plasma, and platelet-rich plasma. The PRP is then collected and injected at numerous sites on the scalp, especially where the hair is too thin or sparse.
The injections are given into the fat layer below the dermis and can cause a little discomfort in some people. Local anesthetic agents are used prior to injections, to make the procedure more comfortable. The whole procedure takes about 20-30 mins. Most PRP regimen consists of 3 sessions 4-6 weeks apart and then one session after 4-6 months. But this may vary from person to person depending on your desired results.
Who should not receive PRP therapy?
PRP therapy is should not be performed in patients with:
- Acute or chronic infections
- Critically low platelet count
- Hemodynamic instability
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic skin disease
- Blood thinners (warfarin, dabigatran, heparin)
- Platelet dysfunction syndromes
- Thyroid disease
- Drug abuser
Much evidence supports the science of PRP hair restoration. Since this is a minimally invasive procedure, there is little to no chance of infection and the spread of communicable diseases. The risks of this procedure are the same as that of getting an injection at any site of the body i.e. injury to blood vessels or nerves, the formation of scar tissue, infection, and calcification. But such events are rare. Typically a sensation of fullness is felt after the injection, this typically resolves within 1 day.
PRP is proving to be a promising intervention to help hair loss sufferers restore their hairstyles and boost confidence. The research on long term benefits of PRP therapy is still lacking but the clinical data suggests high success and satisfaction rates in certain hair loss patients, including those with hereditary hair thinning or baldness.
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