Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a hair restoration treatment with clinically-proven benefits for most people. Platelets are the cells in the blood that are responsible for making a blood clot if you’re injured. A small volume of your blood is drawn from a vein in your arm. The components of blood are then separated out into layers using a specialized machine called a centrifuge. Just like clothes in a washing machine get pressed to the sides when it spins, the centrifuge rotates which causes the red blood cells to be collected on the bottom of the test tube while platelets remain in a concentrated form from the fluid above, hence the name ‘platelet-rich’.
This concentrated fluid is then collected into a syringe that is used to inject small amounts of liquid into multiple places on the scalp using a fine needle. Don’t worry if needles frighten you, however! A numbing cream can be used to lessen the pain. Because PRP uses components of your own blood, you don’t have to worry about your body rejecting it, the way you might with an organ transplant.
The science of how platelet-rich plasma therapy works is not completely understood. One possibility is that PRP releases growth factors to activate the growing cells in the hair follicle and surrounding tissues. Some of these potentially include increasing the number of blood vessels and blood flow to the scalp. Some more recent evidence suggests that the stem cells are stimulated. The end result is that hair growth is more robust and the number of hairs being shed decreases. One analogy to think of is that PRP is like a fertilizer for the garden of hairs growing on your scalp.
At Pilaris, we see favorable results when PRP is performed once a month for 3 months. If the patient is responding, monthly injections are repeated every 3-4 months. As with all medical hair restoration treatment options, the treatment needs to be continued indefinitely, or else with time the hair will return to where it would have been without treatment. With ScalpSurvey, we measure your hair density using specialized equipment as part of the exam. Our practice is unique in measuring your hair count with at least 3 magnified areas of the scalp, so we are able to tell you exactly if/how your hair is improving.
Hair density plot
PRP loading phase
Averaged hair density over 3 high power field
Whether you want to try PRP for your hair is a personal decision. Within our specialized hair dermatology clinic, we have found about 3 out of 4 people have some increased hair with PRP. However, you may want to rethink PRP if you fall into the following categories:
If you have a bleeding disorder that makes you excessively bleed or form blood clots
If you have a special type of ‘scarring’ (cicatricial) hair loss rather than the more common male/female (androgenetic) pattern hair loss
If you are pregnant
Inability to tolerate the pain of the procedure
Do not want to rely on a therapy that must be continued indefinitely