You may have heard about Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), which can be used to help soft tissue wounds heal, as well as in facial aesthetic treatments to rejuvenate your appearance. What many people have not heard of yet is that there is now a similar PRP hair treatment available using PRP to treat hair loss in both men and women.
Even though it is a fairly new treatment, there is already a lot of evidence to support that PRP for hair loss is a good option. This treatment has been gaining popularity over the past few years as most patients see an increase in hair count and thickness, as well as the growth phase of the hair cycle.
Approximately 50 million men in America experience male-pattern baldness, with 30 million women having female-pattern baldness. For some this can begin early in life, but is much more common to start after the age of 30, and more than 50 percent of men will experience some kind of hair loss after the age of 50. If you notice that you are losing 150 or more hairs per day (compared to the usual 100 hairs) you should consider being evaluated by a physician about your concerns.
Sometimes hair loss is not related to aging or genetics. It can also be due to something called “telogen effluvium” which occurs when the resting and growing phases of hair growth become out of sync. Nutritional deficiencies, such as low iron, can be another cause of hair loss.
When it comes to female patterned hair loss, 90 percent is genetic and 10 percent is hormonal. During menopause, estrogen levels plummet which can cause androgen driven hair loss in women. This is because androgens are still made even after female eggs run out and estrogen production virtually stops. In these cases, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy with estrogen is beneficial for the hair as well the skin and bones.
For those with hair loss due to aging or genetics, PRP for hair loss is becoming one of the best treatment options available to regrow hair, with virtually no side effects except for a mild feeling of pressure at the injection site. The other treatments currently available on the market can be more problematic. There are two medications commonly used, finasteride and minoxidil, but they must be taken consistently over time, and they provide inconsistent results with side effects, including scalp dryness and itching and even sexual dysfunction in men. Hair transplantation is a surgical option for hair loss, but it requires deep cuts in the scalp and has a long recovery time.
What is the Process for PRP for Hair Loss?
PRP therapy for any type of treatment begins with a 3 step process, which involves drawing and then separating different parts of the blood. Blood has two main components that it is made up of: red blood cells and plasma. Plasma contains platelets and white blood cells, which are rich in growth factors. Growth factors function as messengers that signal our skin cells to function. These growth factors can help stimulate hair follicles as well, and lead to new hair growth.
To start PRP for hair loss you will have your blood drawn, usually from the arm. Next, the tube containing the blood is placed into a centrifuge, which rapidly spins it in order to separate out the red blood cells from the platelet-poor and platelet-rich plasma. The plasma that is rich in platelets is then drawn up into a syringe and injected directly into the scalp at the level of the hair follicles in the areas that need increased hair growth.
The injection process for a PRP hair treatment is very meticulous with injections approximately every 1/2 inch across the scalp over the area of thinning hair, but you can usually expect the entire procedure to take less than a half hour.
There is minimal to no downtime after receiving PRP for hair loss. A warm shower can be recommended after your treatment because the hot water helps to increase blood flow and circulation throughout the scalp. You may also be instructed to go a day (or two) without your typical hair routine and/or maintenance, including processing, coloring, blow drying etc.
What Risks Are Involved?
PRP for hair loss may sound a little scary at first, but for the most part there are not any real risks associated with these treatment. There is minimal discomfort involved so most patients get injections without needing any numbing. Sometimes ice packs are used to minimize pain, if needed. Also, Tylenol is recommended if there is any discomfort after the PRP hair treatment. It is possible that you could have some bruising from the injections, but that usually resolves within a week or two.
PRP is a safe and natural option for hair loss because the procedure involves concentrating the good cells from your own blood and then injecting them directly back into your scalp where they are needed. Also, there is no chance of getting an infection from another human being with PRP, and it uses your own cells that have not been modified or changed and will not be rejected by your immune system.
Who Will PRP Work for?
Individual results will vary for each patient, but hose with hair loss due to androgenic alopecia, or hereditary hair loss, are the best candidates for PRP hair treatment. Anyone experiencing this type of hair loss can be good candidate for PRP for hair loss, but those in the beginning stages tend to respond the best.
If you have are experiencing hair loss due to an underlying condition, such as thyroid disease, lupus, hormonal imbalances or nutrient deficiencies then you aren’t likely to have good results from PRP because these conditions will continue to cause hair loss over time. Also, if you are on blood thinners then your platelets won’t be as effective, causing the treatment to be not as effective.
What Kind of Results Can I Expect?
The first thing that most patients usually notice after receiving PRP for hair loss is a decrease in hair shedding. This is typically followed by early regrowth and an increase in hair length.
It is important to be consistent with your PRP hair treatments in order to have the best results. Treatments are typically done once a month for the first 3-4 months, and you should expect to see results within 2-3 months. Then, maintenance treatments are done every 3-6 months after, depending on your response and results to the initial treatments. Maintaining treatments at this interval long-term is optimal for the stem cells and growth factors to continue to regrow hair and and stop it from falling out.
There have not been extensive medical trials to establish the that PRP therapy in hair restoration is absolutely effective. PRP should not be considered a cure for hair loss, and because it has not been FDA approved no such claims can currently be made.
PRP treatments have been used successfully in other medical and surgical disciplines for many years, but before deciding if PRP for hair loss is right for you, you should do your own careful research, as well as consult with a physician