What is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, which is naturally found in the blood. PRP contains many growth factors active in wound healing and soft-tissue growth. Primarily, PRP therapy has been used to treat orthopedic conditions to help heal tendons and ligaments. However, PRP therapy has recently become a popular solution for achieving aesthetic goals, including hair growth.
How Does PRP Therapy Work for Hair Restoration?
The platelets within the blood release growth factors, which cause PRP to treat hair loss and restore hair growth effectively. The concentrated platelets contain protein and other growth factors which:
- Help stimulate the growth of hair follicles
- Increase circulation to hair follicles
- Decrease inflammation
PRP is autologous, meaning it is entirely derived from you, so there are no concerns with allergic reactions or unnatural substances injected into the body.
Who is a Candidate for PRP?
PRP works best for men and women of all ages with genetic hair loss (androgenic hair loss) that has happened recently or is ongoing. While it can sometimes help other types of hair loss, it is usually not recommended for hair loss due to scarring, Lupus, or thyroid issues and does not work well on completely bald areas. It also does not work for everybody. While most patients see results, some do not, for reasons we do not know, and results cannot be guaranteed.
The best results occur when patients are treated monthly for 3-4 months, then every 6 months to maintain their hair growth. Treating concurrently with topical minoxidil preparations, oral finasteride or dutasteride, and low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is also recommended for maximum hair growth. Talk to your dermatologist for a personalized regimen.
How is PRP Prepared?
A small amount of blood is drawn in a special tube. The tube is spun in a centrifuge for 10 minutes, which separates the PRP from the red blood cells, white blood cells, and other parts of the blood. Then, the PRP is drawn into another syringe and injected or rubbed into the area being treated.
Does PRP Therapy Hurt?
We use various techniques to decrease the stinging from the injections, including blowing cold air on the scalp a few minutes prior and during the injections to numb the skin, topical numbing, or a vibration device to lessen the pain. The injections take less than 5 minutes.
Who Should Not Get PRP?
Anyone on blood thinners is not a candidate, as blood thinners affect the platelets in PRP. Patients with skin cancer in the treated area should not get treated, and anyone with an infection or significant inflammation in the area should wait until the condition is healed.
You should not take aspirin 2 weeks before a PRP treatment and avoid NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, Motrin, naproxen 7 days before and 7 days after PRP as it may lessen the effect.
Some supplements can thin the blood and may affect PRP, so it is also recommended you discontinue all multivitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin A, ginkgo, garlic, flaxseed, and cod liver oil, a week before the therapy. You may restart a week after.
Patients with skin diseases including Lupus and porphyria, liver disease, platelet, or other blood disorders should not get PRP, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should also not get PRP.
Are There Limitations After PRP?
There are no limitations after PRP. Occasionally patients will have mild headaches, which may be treated with an over-the-counter pain reliever. In rare cases, facial swelling may occur for a few days, but most patients can go straight to their usual lives.
Are There Alternatives to PRP?
Alternatives to PRP include:
- Medical treatments: Minoxidil (Rogaine)
- Nutritional supplements: Biotin
- Oral medications: Finasteride (Propecia)
- Low-level energy lasers to stimulate scalp blood flow
- Surgical options: Hair transplantation and scale reduction
How Do I Get the Best Results From PRP?
The best results occur when several treatments are combined with the recommended 3-4 series of treatments. For example, we recommend combining topical medications with low-level laser treatments and oral supplements/medication for best results. Additionally, each treatment plan should be customized to the individual patient’s needs and preferences.