Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for Hair Loss Essentials
PRP Edmonton Clinic
What is PRP?
PRP is best thought of as a collection of growth factors. These growth factors are completely natural and there is no risk of infection or allergic reactions. This is because PRP injections are taken from your own blood. This is the main reason why the treatment is so attractive to so many people–it does not require any medication or surgery and we are simply concentrating and using the natural growth factors found in your own blood!
PRP is composed of two of your blood components: plasma and platelets. Plasma can be thought of the fluid that makes up your blood and platelets are tiny cells that contain hundreds of growth factors, including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF).
How is the procedure done?
The first step is to collect the blood using a tiny needle. Once collected, the blood is then spun down in a centrifuge. This is then processed and after separating out all the red and white blood cells, the platelet rich plasma (PRP) is concentrated and isolated. This is the part that contains the growth factors that you need. The PRP is then put into tiny syringes that make it easier to inject into the recipient areas.
Are there different systems used to isolate the PRP and is there a difference?
There are many systems available to isolate platelet rich plama. Three of the common systems are Selphyl, Eclipse, and Arthrex Angel. There does appear to be a difference between the systems as they seem to concentrate platelets to differing degrees. See our blog post on this here.
Although it would seem intuitively correct that higher concentration is better than lower concentration, we still do not know if the benefit of PRP tapers off as the concentration rises or if there is even a toxic concentration. Sometimes too much of a good thing is bad.
Which system do we use?
In the past, we used a different system but did not find it very effective. We suspect it had to do with the concentrating ability of the system. After continued research, we have decided to use the Eclipse system for isolating and concentrating the platelet rich plasma. This is largely based on its improved ability to concentrate platelets and a very recent study published in 2018 in Dermatologic Surgery by Hausauer and Jones. The investigators used the Eclipse system and had very good results treating male and female pattern hair loss. They found that an initial monthly PRP injection regimen was beneficial and we use a similar regimen as described in this article. We treat once a month for 3 months and then once every 6-12 months thereafter to maintain the benefit.
One additional benefit from the Eclipse system is that it removes virtually all of the red blood cells from the plasma, unlike our other PRP system. We were pleasantly surprised to find Eclipse PRP inections are much more comfortable than our our previous type of PRP injections. This is apparently due to the fact that leftover red blood cells in the plasma are responsible for some of the discomfort that patients experience. An extra bonus for our patients!
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PRP Edmonton Clinic
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How Does it Work?
The PRP portion of blood contains numerous growth factors, including epidermal growth factor, extracellular signal-related kinase, fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, vascular endothelial growth factor, and many other factors. Once injected, they are thought to stimulate genes involved with angiogenesis (new blood vessels), cell survival. and cell proliferation.
What can PRP be used for?
PRP has been used for years to treat a multitude of conditions. In particular, it has been used for wound healing to help repair injured joints, tendons, and muscles. It has also been used to help rejuvenate the skin by stimulating collagen, sometimes in combination with other treatments such as micro-needling and fillers. In particular, it has been used to improve the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes and other parts of the face. Another name for this procedure in the press in the Vampire Facelift.
With respect to hair loss, it is primarily used to treat male and female pattern hair loss, and can sometimes be used to treat resistant cases of scarring and non-scarring hair loss, such as alopecia areata and lichen planopilaris (LPP). In addition, PRP treatment can be used in hair transplant cases as it can speed up the growth of new hair. It should be noted that platelet rich plasma injection does not improve the final appearance of a hair transplant. It only speeds up regrowth of new hairs.
When will I see results from PRP for hair loss?
We tell our patients that you can look for results around the three month mark. It can take longer in some patients but at that point, we usually see some results for hair loss.
What are the risks of PRP injections?
There is no risk of transfusion reactions or blood-borne illnesses like HIV because we are using the patient’s own blood. Having said that, infection is a very small but possible risk as with any procedure. Bruising is also a risk of PRP treatment.
Does PRP hurt?
As with any blood-taking procedure, there is a small sting when the needle is introduced into your arm and no anesthetic is necessary. Having said that, if you are needle averse, we can put topical anesthetic on the area or use a light laughing gas to make things easier for you. In addition, there are tiny stings when the PRP is injected into your areas of hair thinning. As indicated earlier, a benefit of using the Eclipse system is that we have found it to be less painful than our other PRP device.
Platelet rich plasma is a great option for patients looking for a non-surgical and safe treatment for their hair loss. There are no allergic reactions or other side effects as the therapeutic agent is 100% bioidentical. In addition to PRP therapy, there are other options for hair restoration.