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Hair Restoration Research

Study Adds Credence to Effectiveness of PRP Treatments

An article in the September/October 2015 issue of Hair Transplant Forum International highlighted results of a 6-month study of platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment in a 23-year-old male diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia (common male pattern baldness). The study showed a significant increase in hair density and decrease in miniaturized follicles, as well as an apparent darkening of hair pigmentation.

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What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and How Does It Promote Hair Growth?

Q: I’ve heard a lot about platelet-rich plasma (PRP). What is platelet-rich plasma, and how does it promote hair growth?

A: Blood plasma holds the blood cells in a liquid suspension. Blood plasma makes up about 55% of the body’s total blood volume. There are three basic types of blood cells: red blood cells (that carry oxygen), white blood cells (that have immune functions to help fight infection) and platelets (that facilitate coagulation, wound healing and repair).

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How Does Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treat Androgenic Alopecia?

Q: How does PRP therapy for hair loss work?

A: In theory, platelet rich plasma (PRP) stimulates the growth of hair follicles by reversing the hair miniaturization (thinning hair) process seen in androgenic alopecia (common baldness).

While it is not exactly known how PRP reverses miniaturization, researchers do have a few ideas. First, PRP may counteract miniaturization by prolonging the growth (anagen) phase of hair follicle. Second, PRP has been observed to increase the number of stem cells in hair follicles. This is known to help protect a hair follicle from apoptosis, a natural process of programmed cell death. Researchers think that this anti-apoptotic effect could stimulate new hair growth. Finally, PRP treatment has been observed to promote growth of new blood vessels around treated hair follicles. Researchers have suggested that this could also stimulate new hair growth.

In sum, a number of factors may come into play to effect new hair growth during treatment with platelet rich plasma. Research is ongoing to further clarify the specific mechanisms involved.

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Is There Any Research on Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) As A Hair Loss Treatment?

Q: I have read conflicting reports on the use of PRP to treat hair loss. What is your assessment? Are there any research publications that suggest it does work?

A: Two recent studies published in 2014 have presented preliminary evidence that platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy may stop or reverse genetic hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) in both males and females.

The first study, published in the medical journal Dermatologic Surgery, found at least some improvement in male and female patients with androgenetic alopecia. This study concluded that 47% of those patients experienced at least moderate to very good improvement, 1 a level that the researchers defined as “clinically important.” Because this was just a pilot study without a control group, the authors could not reliably claim that PRP was effective in treating hair loss.

A second study, published in the journal BioMed Research International2, concluded that treatments of platelet-rich plasma stimulated hair growth in men with pattern hair loss. In this clinical study, the researchers found a statistically significant increase in both hair density and terminal hairs.

While more comprehensive testing need to be done, these studies provide preliminary evidence that platelet rich plasma therapy may stimulate hair growth in patients with male or female pattern baldness.

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