Hair loss can occur in any age group at any age. In the United States, about 80 million adults, including 30 million women and 50 million are experiencing androgenic alopecia aka pattern baldness (1). If you’re experiencing hair loss and baldness, it would be difficult for you to be confident and self-assured.
Thinning hair and hair loss can make it difficult for you to socially interact with others. Men can experience enormous emotional burden due to hair loss. According to a study, 30-33% of women have complained about depression due to hair loss.
But now, you don’t need to undergo surgery or take medications and ointments to restore your hair. An emerging and innovative treatment that tends to reverse hair loss and stimulate hair growth without any side effects is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment.
If you’re suffering from hair loss or pattern baldness, this article explains everything about PRP injections, how it is done, and its benefits.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?
As the name suggests, PRP treatment, also called vampire treatment, makes use of platelets to treat various skin conditions, as well as muscoskeletal conditions. Platelets contain many growth factors, which promote tissue regeneration and cell growth. Many research studies have reported that increase in the thickness of hair and improved blood supply to hair follicles can be achieved by taking platelets-rich plasma from the patient’s blood and injecting it into their scalp (2).
PRP treatment encourages the growth of hair, thickens thin hair, speeds up healing, triggers cell proliferation, and facilitates tissue regeneration. Moreover, compared to plasma in regular blood, PRP is five times more concentrated. PRP is rich in growth factors, which mediate tissue re-growth and wound healing. To treat hair loss, platelet-rich plasma is injected into the scalp in multiple hair areas (3).
Does Research Support the Efficacy of PRP for Hair Re-Growth?
Here are some studies, which have reported the promising results of PRP in hair re-growth:
- One study conducted in 2015 reported improvement in the strength of hair roots, hair thickness, and number of hairs in people who received PRP therapy for three months (4).
- In another study, participants who had androgenic alopecia received PRP injections into the scalp for three months (every two weeks), reported an increase in the number of hair follicles. It means that increased number of hair follicles supported healthy hair growth because of PRP scalp injections (4).
- Another study involved two groups of participants who used different aesthetic treatments for six months to stimulate hair growth. One group received PRP injections and other group received Rogaine. PRP treatment was reported to have better results than Rogaine (5).
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
PRP treatment requires three or four sessions to be completed with duration of four to six weeks. PRP treatment involves three main steps:
Step 01: In the first step, doctor extracts blood from the vein of your arm and separates blood components from plasma and platelets through centrifugation.
Step 02: When the blood is spun in centrifuge, platelet-rich plasma sits in the bottom of the test tube. The centrifuged sample now contains:
- Red blood cells
- Platelet-rich plasma
- Platelet-poor plasma
Increased concentration of platelets can be achieved by centrifuging it twice.
Step 03: In this final step, the platelet-rich plasma is filled into a syringe and injected into scalp by either of the procedures:
- Dermal: A higher number of injections filled with platelet-rich plasma are injected into the dermal layer of the skin into the scalp by the use of a short needle.
- Sub-dermal: A less number of injections using longer needles are injected into the subcutaneous layer of the skin into the scalp where hairs need most growth (6).
Aftercare for PRP Treatment:
Here are some of the aftercare tips you must follow after getting a PRP treatment:
- It is completely normal if you notice a mild discomfort and some bruising on the affected area and it can remain sore for 3 to 4 days. Your doctor can recommend you acetaminophen to reduce bruising and swelling. However, if you experience severe pain, you should immediately consult your doctor.
- You should avoid washing or taking hot showers immediately after the treatment. After 48 hours, you can use hair care products and topical medications.
- It is not a good idea to color or dye your hair immediately after the treatment. You can resume dying your hair after one week of PRP treatment (7).
How Long does it Last?
The time duration required for PRP treatment is just 30 minutes, but in order to achieve maximum hair growth through growth factors, 3-6 months are required to achieve the results. To retain the results of hair growth, a person must go for PRP treatment 3-4 times, as you get the results with the multiple uses of medications for hair loss, such as oral finasteride (Propecia) and topical minoxidil (Rogaine) (8).
It also depends on your hair condition, type of disease, and initial results to receive PRP treatment by multiple times. If your hair loss is under control, then you’ll start increasing the duration of treatment.
Is It a Safe Procedure?
PRP treatment creates incredible results, making your hair look healthier and fuller. It is considered as an efficient and safe aesthetic treatment because of the following reasons:
- Compared to other procedure, it creates only a little pain and inflammation in the treatment area. The scalp then returns back to normal condition after a short period.
- Every stage of PRP preparation, application, and injection involves sterile techniques. Unless you have an existing medical condition, PRP is a sterile and safe procedure.
- PRP treatment does not cause any foreign-body reactions, hypersensitivity, and allergies because it is immunologically neutral procedure (9).
Does PRP Treatment for Hair Loss Carry Potential Risks?
As PRP is all about injecting your own blood’s plasma into your scalp, there’s no risk of getting any complication unless you have an underlying health conditions.
Still, there are some potential risks that are associated with PRP treatment:
- Infection in the treatment area
- Formation of scar tissue or calcification
- Bleeding and itching at the injection site
- Scalp tenderness
- Side effects of anesthesia
1. Hair Loss Got You Down? Platelet-Rich Plasma May Regrow It – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/hair-loss-got-you-down-platelet-rich-plasma-may-regrow-it/
2. PRP Hair Treatment Success Rate: Does It Work for Hair Loss? [Internet]. Healthline. 2020 [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/prp-hair-treatment-success-rate
3. PRP for hair loss: Does it work, and is it safe? [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326294
4. Efficacy of platelet-rich plasma in treatment of androgenic alopecia [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562137/
5. A study to compare the efficacy of platelet-rich plasma and minoxidil therapy for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia Verma K, Tegta GR, Verma G, Gupta M, Negi A, Sharma R – Int J Trichol [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.ijtrichology.com/article.asp?issn=0974-7753;year=2019;volume=11;issue=2;spage=68;epage=79;aulast=Verma
6. PRP for Hair Loss: Efficacy, Safety, and Cost [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/prp-for-hair-loss
7. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/plateletrich-plasma-prp-treatment
8. PRP for hair loss: Can it reverse baldness without surgery, pills, or creams? | Plastic Surgery | UT Southwestern Medical Center [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: http://utswmed.org/medblog/prp-hair-loss-can-it-reverse-baldness-without-surgery-pills-or-creams/
9. LLC PF. PRP for Hair Loss Treatment, Costs, and Results | PRP Finder.com | Find BEST Platelet Rich Plasma Providers [Internet]. [cited 2021 Mar 20]. Available from: https://prpfinder.com/prp-for-hair-loss-treatment-costs-and-results.html