Platelet Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) is a technique that has been used over the years to accelerate healing of injured tissues. It’s been used for Osteoarthritis of the Knee, Shoulder, Hip and Spine, Back and Neck Injuries, Ankle Sprains etc. But now, doctors have started using Platelet Rich Plasma therapy for hair loss or thinning hair treatment. Using this therapy for hair restoration is fairly new but has shown initial promising results. Here’s the breakdown.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma therapy?
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy uses super high concentration of blood platelets that are injected into the tissue of concern. Blood platelets are actually tiny cell fragments found in blood that are primarily responsible in repairing any damaged tissue. You will notice for example, if you cut your finger, the bleeding will stop within minutes. Why? Largely because the blood platelets are ‘activated’ to heal the wound.
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy for hair loss
Using this knowledge, doctors have explored the effects of this therapy on the hair follicles which by the way, are also organs. If the hair follicles have suffered some form of trauma, in theory, the platelets might be able to stimulate/regenerate them. This procedure lasts about 1 hour and can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the frequency of the sessions etc.
How is it done?
First the blood is drawn from the patient. The lab technician will then use a centrifuge (spin at high speed) to separate the platelets from the other blood components. The concentration achieved is at least 4 times more than regular blood. The platelets are then prepared as a gel in sterile syringes for injections. Usually an anaesthetic cream is applied over the bald/thinning area to reduce discomforts. The scalp area is also cleaned prior to the injections in the skin.
ABC news recently published a segment on this new hair loss treatment. The video can be found here.
Important points to note
- PRP is immunologically neutral and poses no danger of allergic, hypersensitivity or foreign-body reactions since the blood is your own.
- A brief period of inflammation at wound sites may be experienced by a patient after application.
- The treatment doesn’t require surgery and is deemed fairly straightforward.
- The use of PRP in the United States as part of the clinical process of hair transplantation does not require FDA approval, just as the use of blood transfusion during or after surgery does not require FDA approval.
- The FDA has not approved PRP as a medication specifically for use in hair transplantation. FDA approval would be based on objective evidence of efficacy (e.g., promoting healing, promoting hair growth) and safety.
- Claims that PRP is “FDA approved” for use in hair transplantation are incorrect. Advertised claims of PRP efficacy in promoting hair growth may be a violation of FDA protocol regarding medical claims.
- More thorough clinical trials are needed to definitively conclude whether PRP therapy can help hair regrowth, and to get FDA approval. One study is reported here.
- So far, PRP has been found to help hair transplants heal quicker and more effectively. It is often used in parallel with other treatments. For example other surgeons have suggested using ACell + PRP combinations for better results. ACell is an FDA approved protein matrix. [more here]
- People with certain medical conditions should not have PRP therapy. It is best to consult your doctor before making a decision.
Platelets Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy by itself has shown promise in many patients. The treatment may need 4-6 repetitive sessions in order to see significant results. Those with thinning hair might see better results than those with total hair loss. Clinical data is lacking at this time to prove the efficacy of this treatment, which is why it not yet FDA approved for hair restoration.