Our Guide to Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapyand How It Can Help Hair Loss
Hair loss can be distressing for anyone. Hereditary hair loss affects more than 7.2 million people in the UK, and many other factors can cause thinning hair or sudden balding in men, women and children alike. For decades people have clambered for a medical cure to hair loss, and historically doctors have been able to intervene with hair transplant procedures or medicinal aids. These solutions often manage to reverse or at least stall hair loss, but often come with many negative side effects, such as an itchy scalp, long-term recovery periods or in some cases even sexual dysfunction.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy or PRP is a newer form of treatment that has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years, due largely to the minimal side-effects in comparison to older treatments. You may not have heard of PRP or the benefits it can bring, so let’s take a look at what it’s all about.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
PRP has been used in the medical world since 2005. Initially, PRP was used to help with healing wounds, in relation to plastic surgery, sports medicine, and orthopedics. Whilst it is still used in these fields in the past five years PRP has become more well known for its application as a therapy used for treating hair loss.
Using a thin needle a medical professional injects the Platelet-Rich Plasma into the affected area, using blood drawn from elsewhere on the patient. The method is effective at stimulating regrowth and leads to natural-looking results, and without the need for expensive surgical procedures.
How does Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy actually work?
The plasma is extracted from blood typically taken from a patient’s arm, in a procedure similar to giving blood for a blood test. The blood is held in specialised test tubes that prevent clotting of the blood. By spinning the blood with a centrifugation device the Platelet-Rich Plasma settles at the bottom of the test tube, accounting for roughly a third of the original contents of the tube.
This plasma is then injected into the area of the scalp that has been affected by hair loss. The platelets that are contained within the plasma will then encourage hair growth. Typically 15 to 20 such injections are performed per session.
Whilst this process may sound painful and confusing, it is actually extremely straightforward, and the minimal amount of blood taken means that the patient suffers very little pain at the source, and no side-effects other than a mild soreness at the injection sites. The pain is so minimal that anaesthetic is not required, and within 30-45 minutes the whole process is complete.
There is no surgery, no scars, no medication, and no sedation. Compared to older, more invasive techniques it’s easy to see why PRP is growing in popularity every year.
How soon can I expect results?
After receiving Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy it may take a little time for you to begin to see results. It is also necessary to attend follow-up sessions, typically monthly appointments for the first 3 months and then a further session after three to six months. Yearly maintenance sessions will help to keep the treatment effective from then on.
Of course, factors such as the amount of hair loss and the density of growth will vary from patient to patient, and your medical practitioner will be able to advise how many appointments will specifically be necessary. Typically, you can expect to begin seeing results after a third or fourth appointment.
Does it really work?
Yes! Studies have been conducted that show PRP treatment is more effective than other methods at promoting hair growth. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Biotechnology Information, US, hair was taken from a group of patients before and after treatment. Not only did they find that the PRP injections had slowed the rate of hair loss by causing strengthening at the roots but it was also shown to promote the growth of new hair follicles along the hairline. As PRP creates new blood vessels in the scalp the benefits also any existing hair, and the study found the density of hair per square inch on the patient’s scalps also improved, and hair appeared thicker and darker.
Who is Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy for?
The main beneficiaries of PRP are men and women who suffer from androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male-pattern baldness. In women, it often results in a notable thinning of hair across the whole scalp. It is most effective in people who have begun losing hair in the last five years as over a longer period than this hair follicles can become so small that newly introduced platelets will often fail to promote any new growth. PRP is also effective for balding men in general and women who have experienced hair loss or hair thinning as a result of the menopause. You may have already heard of the famous PRP Facial.
What are the downsides of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy?
There are very few side-effects related to PRP. As the treatment is non-invasive and uses blood extracted from the patient themselves there is absolutely no recovery time required, and any discomfort caused by the treatment tends to pass almost immediately. Whilst it is a relatively expensive treatment the risk-free nature of PRP makes it an attractive and exciting prospect.
The main downside of PRP is that the patient still needs to be realistic about what the treatment will achieve. Whilst PRP has been proven to effectively promote regrowth of hair, it is still only an improvement and will not result in miraculous results. PRP is effective in halting and reversing hair loss, especially when it has begun in the past five years, but it can not be expected to cause massive amounts of regrowth.