Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is a portion of blood that is rich in platelets and their various growth factors. The blood is drawn from one’s arm or hand, similar to the blood drawn for labs. The blood is processed in a centrifuge and after preparation it is injected in the body area of interest. PRP has shown beneficial in various medical conditions such as alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis, bone fracture and wounds healing, various musculoskeletal injuries, skin rejuvenation and hair loss among others.
PRP contains special cells called Platelets. In theory, platelets can cause growth of the hair follicles by stimulating the stem cells and other cells in the microenvironment of the hair follicle. These special Platelet cells promote healing, accelerate the rate and degree of tissue healing and regeneration, responds to injury, and help initiate cellular growth. The primary purpose of using PRP in hair restoration is to stimulate inactive or newly implanted hair follicles into an active growth phase. It can also be used as a stand alone treatment.
Intracellular structures within the platelets include as glycogen, lysosomes and alpha granules. These granules within the PRP contain clotting and growth factors that are eventually released during the healing and repair process.
PRP specific cells that causes hair growth include: Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF)—promotes blood vessel growth, cell replication, skin formation; Transforming Growth-Factor-Beta (TGF-b)—promotes growth of matrix between cells, bone metabolism; Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)—promotes blood vessel formation; Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF)—promotes cell growth and differentiation, blood vessel formation, collagen formation; Fibroblast Growth Factor-2 (FGF-2)—promotes growth of specialized cells and blood vessel formation; and, Insulin Like Growth Factor – (IGF)—a regulator of normal physiology in nearly every type of cell in the body
Several recent studies have shown that PRP can help with hair regrowth in male or female pattern hair loss (aka androgenic or androgenetic alopecia), which are the most common types of hair loss. PRP has also shown benefits in some cases of alopecia areata, In addition to its use in conjunction with hair transplant surgery by some surgeons. Most research indicate that PRP may work through the effects of various growth factors and cytokines which are released from platelets upon activation.
There are many different varieties of PRP treatments for hair loss. Some physicians use a single spin preparation while others use a double, some use additions to the PRP that they believe will improve the effects while others do not, and some use micro trauma to potentiate the effects. Depending on the physicians experience and technique, PRP treatments are repeated every 3 months, 6 months, or 9-18 months.
Dr. Unger performs PRP using a double spin preparation and micro needling. It is performed once and results are evaluated approximately 3 months later. If it is effective, the procedure needs to be repeated every 9-18 months. Although small studies and anecdotal reports create a lot of enthusiasm for PRP for hairless patients, response still varies significantly between techniques and between patients.