July 31, 2014

Guest Post | Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy and the growth of hair follicles

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Platelet rich plasma therapy, also known as PRP therapy, uses the patient’s own blood as a treatment for hair restoration in patients with thinning hair. The process is labeled as autologous, which means it is safe and will minimize the risk of infection or rejection. Physicians have been using the PRP process for several decades as an added measure to help patients with the healing of wounds, tendons, ligaments, injuries and cosmetic treatments. It has only been a few years since PRP became a treatment for hair growth. The application of PRP is used for both surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Just prior to treatment, a small amount of blood is drawn from a vein and put into a spinning machine called a centrifuge. After 15 minutes, the concentrated platelets, with vital stem cells and growth factors, have floated to the top and are ready for use. The patient’s scalp is prepared for the PRP therapy with the use of a topical anesthesia. The final preparation involves the use of a unique medical device called a micro-needling roller. There are 200 very short, very fine needles on the roller that will prick the skin’s surface and ready the scalp for the platelet rich plasma therapy injections. As an added measure, PRP can also be rubbed onto the scalp in the treated areas. 

The entire treatment is minimally invasive as stated at Empire Center for Regenerative Medicine and any residual discomfort or pain diminishes within a day or two. If needed, the physician will prescribe an appropriate pain medication that will not interfere with the healing process. The entire procedure takes a couple of hours and will need to be repeated two or three more times, at three or four month intervals, for successful hair growth. Thereafter, a platelet rich plasma therapy once a year will help to retain the new stronger and thicker hair growth. A new growth of hair fuss can be seen after a few months and measurable growth is visible between eight months and one year.

Stem cells within a patient’s fatty tissues have been identified as benefactors for encouraging revitalized hair follicles and growth. The collection of fat cells is called fat grafting and can be taken from anybody area containing fat. The most typical area for fat grafting is the stomach. In combination with the concentrated platelets, the fat stem cells increase the potency of the injections and signal the roots of the hair follicles for regeneration. The fatty stem cells manufacture Platelet Derived Growth Factors (PDGF) needed to simulate the new growth. Fat cells need to be grafted from areas away from the scalp as hair follicles are reactivated from non-follicle fat stem cells.

Platelet rich plasma is also used as a healing treatment for the follicular donor areas harvested during other hair procedures such as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). Some natural supplements that will work in conjunction with stem cells and assist in their effectiveness are green tea extract, blueberry extract and the daily recommended dosage of vitamin D3. Smoking and alcohol consumption need to be eliminated or greatly reduced during plasma and fatty stem cell treatment as these practices reduce the healing process.

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