Did you know that growth factors from your blood cells can stimulate hair growth if you are experiencing hair loss or thinning? A treatment called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a non-surgical technique performed by a doctor who injects your own blood into the scalp where hair loss occurs.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy?
According to Dr. Naana Boakye, “Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy contains a rich source of growth factors that enhance blood vessel formation and promote cell proliferation. Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy regenerative potential is dependent on twenty growth factors, such as platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor-b (TGF-b), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VGEF).
The growth factors bind to the bulge areas of the follicle and potentially promote hair growth and offer potential treatment for certain alopecias.”
The hair bulge encompassing the hair follicles stem cells is responsible for creating new hair and healing wounds on the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis.
How is your blood used to stimulate hair growth?
Dr. Achiamah Oseitutu says, “The blood is drawn and spun down to separate and enrich the platelet portion. Platelets are blood components that help to stop bleeding. They also contain very powerful growth, and anti-inflammatory factors when activated, and their contents released. The enriched platelets are then injected into an area of hair loss.”
Can PRP help with any type of hair loss?
Boakye says, “PRP has assisted patients with alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. Currently, there are no studies on PRP and cicatricial alopecias. However, it is being addressed.” Cicatricial alopecia destroys the hair follicles, which can lead to permanent hair loss of the affected area.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy can also be used in some cases of eyebrow thinning, and traction alopecia, which is hair loss caused by tension on the scalp. “We also use PRP as an adjunctive treatment in hair transplants,” notes Oseitutu.
How is PRP different from topical treatments like minoxidil and other drugs used to reverse hair loss?
“Minoxidil is a drug that possibly promotes hair growth by causing vasodilation (dilatation of blood vessels to decrease blood pressure). The exact mechanism of action is not widely understood, whereas PRP is autologous (derived from you) and contains over twenty growth factors that nourish the cellular matrix,” according to Dr. Boakye.
Dr. Oseitutu says, “Think of PRP as an organic way of treating hair loss. You are using the power of your own body to treat. Minoxidil is a topical medication that is used to elongate the growth phase of the hair cycle. It has a very specific action and there is scientific evidence proving its efficacy.”
She also adds in that “PRP and minoxidil are both ‘non-specific’ growth stimulators, which means they can be used in multiple types of hair loss conditions.”
Are there any side effects?
There could be tenderness at the site of injection, which can be minimized with the proper precautions, explains Dr. Naana Boakye. Other side effects, according to Dr. Oseitutu, include soreness, tightness of the scalp, small areas of bleeding, and redness.
How soon can patients see results?
Dr. Boakye advises to give the therapy at least six months before you start seeing results.
How often do patients have to get PRP?
Dr. Oseitutu says, “PRP is typically done once every three to four months for a year with a booster every 6 months. Some doctors use Acell Matristem (https://acell.com/micromatrix/), which is a protein complex FDA approved for wound care to help to prolong the PRP and help to stimulate dormant hair follicles. When PRP is used with Acell, it can be injections once every 12-24 months. Please note that Acell is not FDA approved for use in hair loss.”
What are some other benefits of PRP?
Dr. Boakye points out that PRP can be used for an array of conditions such as skin rejuvenation, acne scars, wound ulcers, striae (stretch marks), lichen sclerosus, and scars.
Are there any special products or services you need to use or stay away from?
There are no specific at-home or salon products. The patient should partner with a stylist who will take meticulous care of their hair and scalp in order to maintain the health of the hair notes.
Dr. Boakye adds, “We always advise gentle hair care practices for a healthy scalp and hair. However, there are no restrictions as far as products or services.”
How is PRP different from hair transplants?
Dr. Oseitutu clarifies how the two services differ.
“PRP is a type of non-surgical hair restoration. We do not move any hairs in this procedure. We stimulate existing hairs. In hair transplant we use or borrow hairs from more stable hairs on the back of the head and put them in areas of thinning. PRP can be used with hair transplant surgery. Some hair transplant surgeons have found that it may increase the survival of the transplanted hairs and may improve the scars left from moving the hairs. There is increasing evidence that PRP can be beneficial and is quite promising in treating some types of hair loss, but it has not been proven given the current scientific date.”
If you are interested in having PRP to treat hair loss, seek the advice of a dermatologist to find out if the treatment is right for you.