Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
What is PRP?
Platelet rich plasma is concentrated blood plasma which contains approximately five times the number of platelets found in normal circulating blood. In addition, blood plasma contains the growth factors PDGF and VEGF and other bioactive proteins that aid in wound healing.
Human blood is comprised primarily of red blood cells (RBC), as well as white blood cells (WBC), platelets, and plasma. By initiating the first step of coagulation, platelets are the key to the body’s ability to heal wounds.
It is thought that by increasing the platelet count in a wounded area, the body’s healing to that area would be accelerated – explaining the use of PRP (platelet rich plasma) in wound healing.
Uses of PRP
PRP is used in many areas of medicine, including the acceleration of healing of tendon injuries, the treatment of osteoarthritis, in some aspects of dental work (i.e. jaw reconstruction), and in cardiovascular medicine. The concentrated form of plasma has been shown to accelerate wound healing and tissue repair and, thus, could potentially benefit hair restoration procedures.
To obtain PRP, a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the solid from liquid components. The separated “solid” portion of the blood is PRP (platelet rich plasma). The PRP is then placed into a syringe and reintroduced into the surgical site.
In hair transplantation, PRP can be injected into the recipient site area to theoretically stimulate the healing of the transplanted grafts and into the donor area to facilitate healing of the donor incision.
Mechanism of Action in Hair Transplants
Hair follicles survive through the absorption of oxygen from surrounding tissue. It is conjectured that the introduction of platelets and white blood cells through platelet rich plasma (PRP) would amplify the body’s naturally occurring wound healing mechanism. Others propose that PRP can actually stimulate the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles. Some practitioners also claim that PRP can be used to stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing hair miniaturization seen in androgenetic alopecia and even preventing hair loss.
While there is much conjecture as to the benefits of using PRP during hair transplantation and its use in the medical treatment of hair loss, there is little scientific evidence to support these theories at the present time. This is a field of hair restoration that awaits further scientific data.