Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
As leaders in the field of hair transplant, we are proud to be among the very first doctors in the specialty to provide patients the latest development, platelet rich plasma (PRP). This form of cell therapy may, once the technique is developed, to become the standard of care, assuming it proves to be as effective as heralded. Over the last several years, cell therapy has been used as a treatment in fields such as cardiology, plastic surgery, and orthopedics, and now hair transplantation is taking its rightful place.
Developed by a research scientist colleague, PRP is obtained from a small amount of the patient’s blood by spinning it in a centrifuge at such high speeds that it isolates the platelets (the body’s mediator of healing) and growth factor proteins. The PRP and growth factors can then be utilized in several ways to maybe one day potentially enhance the results of the hair transplant:
- Added to the scalp where hairs are transplanted, decreasing bleeding and bruising, accelerating healing, and reducing shock hair loss, meaning patients look better sooner after the procedure
- Speeding up and increasing the percentage of transplanted hair growth
- Better healing of the donor site incision – here is where PRP does seem to be effective
- Stimulating the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles.
- Stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing hair miniaturization seen in androgenetic alopecia
- Preventing hair loss
Mechanism of Action in Hair Transplants
Hair follicles survive through the absorption of oxygen from surrounding tissue. It is conjectured that the introduction of platelets and white blood cells through platelet rich plasma (PRP) would amplify the body’s naturally occurring wound healing mechanism. Others propose that PRP can actually stimulate the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles. Some practitioners also claim that PRP can be used to stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing hair miniaturization seen in androgenetic alopecia and even preventing hair loss.
While there is much conjecture as to the benefits of using PRP during hair transplantation and its use in the medical treatment hair loss, there is little scientific evidence to support these theories at the present time. This is a field of hair restoration that awaits further scientific data.
PRP is used in many areas of medicine, including the acceleration of healing of tendon injuries, the treatment of osteoarthritis, in some aspects of dental work (i.e. jaw reconstruction), and in cardiovascular medicine. The concentrated form of plasma has been shown to accelerate wound healing and tissue repair and, thus, could potentially benefit hair restoration procedures.
To obtain PRP, a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the solid from liquid components. The separated “solid” portion of the blood is PRP (platelet rich plasma). The PRP is then placed into a syringe and reintroduced into the surgical site.
In hair transplantation, PRP can be injected into the recipient site area to theoretically stimulate the healing of the transplanted grafts and into the donor area to facilitate healing of the donor incision.