Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a possible new avenue for securing the success of hair transplant procedures. Before hair surgeons considered its benefits in the field of hair transplant, PRP was a means to promote tissue healing and repair following surgeries or injuries in sports medicine, orthopaedics, dentistry or other medical specialties.
What is PRP therapy and how it’s made?
PRP is essentially blood plasma that has a much higher concentration of platelets than normal blood. Along with red and white cells, platelets are normally occurring constituents of blood, but unlike red and white cells, platelets don’t have a nucleus and thus, cannot be qualified as cells.
Platelets are a significant component of the blood clotting system and activate upon injury, forming clots to plug a bleeding site. Besides being an important part of the body’s emergency response mechanism during an injury, platelets also contribute to tissue healing and recovery via growth-factor molecules. Thus, when PRP is used in surgery, due to the increased number of platelets, tissue growth, recovery and health can be promoted thanks to the storehouse of growth-factor molecules in platelets.
PRP comes from the patient’s own blood, which in medical terms is described as being autologous. In this respect, the use of PRP is somewhat similar to patients donating their own blood before surgery to be used instead of blood from the hospital blood bank in case a transfusion will be needed, or when a patient’s own skin is used in plastic surgery procedures. Thanks to its autologous aspect, PRP is immunologically neutral, meaning that there is no risk of foreign-body immunologic reaction.
The actual process of making PRP is as follows:
- Patient’s blood is withdrawn through normal laboratory procedure (i.e. with syringe from arm);
- The tubes containing the withdrawn blood are placed in a centrifuge;
- Upon spinning in the centrifuge, red cells, white cells and platelets are concentrated at various levels;
- Blood plasma rich in platelets (PRP contains 4 to 8 times more platelets per cubic centimetre than normal blood plasma) is then drawn off and prepared for application.
Use of PRP injections in hair transplant procedures
In the field of hair transplant, PRP’s use during and after hair transplant is projected to:
- Enhance and preserve hair follicles;
- Promote tissue repair and healing;
- Stimulate hair growth and reactivate dormant hair follicles.
Adding PRP to the solution in which hair follicles are stored between their harvest and their implantation has been shown to improve follicle viability. Likewise, adding PRP to scalp incisions by injecting PRP gel into the wounds, has been found to enhance healing at the transplant site, albeit in a number of small cases or individual cases.
Furthermore, a small study was conducted to determine the effects of PRP on dormant hair follicles. The study found that applied to slightly injured scalp skin, PRP enhanced hair diameter and hair growth during a 4-month period, followed by a fall-off in enhanced hair growth after 4 months.
At this stage, the use of PRP in the field of hair transplant is still experimental and further studies need to be conducted to conclusively prove the hypotheses raised concerning the effectiveness of PRP in stimulating hair growth and enhancing the healing of the scalp following hair transplantation.