PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. It is an important part of the newly evolving field of Regenerative Medicine. Since 1987, Orthopedic Surgeons have been using PRP to promote healing of bones and joints. It is now accepted as a safe and effective treatment for Regenerative Plastic Surgery, including hair loss and thinning in both women and men.
Drugs delay hair loss. Transplantation moves your remaining hair follicles to areas that will be pleasing to you. PRP is a method that stimulates hair growth, especially if you cannot or do not want to use other forms of treatment, or if a hair transplant is not an option for you, or if you just want to improve hair that is thinning in the crown area.
What is so special about PRP in the medical/surgical world, and what is appealing to many people, is that it is an “autologous” procedure, which means it allows you the rare opportunity to use the contents of your own body to improve your condition. Just by simply drawing some blood in the office, and preparing it while you are there, you can have the positive effects of PRP, without any potential unwanted side effects of other treatments. Some physicians use systems that add other products to your PRP, like porcine (pig) bladder cells, in an attempt to start the first step; studies have not shown that this is of any benefit. We do not do this in our office.
PRP is concentrated blood plasma that contains three to five times the number of platelets found in your circulating blood (composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets). Remember, platelets are known to be a major factor in starting the body’s healing process (they are the cells that stop you from bleeding after you cut yourself). These concentrated platelets contain several active proteins and Growth Factors that have been proven to help in wound healing. Studies are showing that they help in hair growth as well.
You probably have heard about stem cells. The Growth Factors released from the platelets turn on the resting, non-dividing, non-differentiated stem cells of the follicles, which in turn stimulate new follicles. Also, the stem cells not only improve blood flow, but they also stimulate the formation of new blood vessels! Interactions of all these factors activate the growth phase of hair.
If you’ve spoken with a physician about your hair loss, I’m sure you’ve learned about your “miniaturized” follicles. Miniaturization is what you can blame your hair loss on. Your genetics and hormones can make the growth phase of your hair shorten over time. As you would expect with the growth phase shortened, vulnerable hair follicles respond by making hairs that cannot grow to a full size; they have a smaller diameter and length. This continues and continues (thinning hair) until they eventually disappear (bald). The top and sides of the head are usually more likely to be victims of miniaturization, while the back and sides are not. PRP has been shown to reduce miniaturization.
Research studies have been done on individuals comparing half of the head treated with PRP and half of the head treated with placebo. The treated half of the head in these patients show clinical improvement in the number of hairs, and an increase in total hair density*.
*Individual results may vary.