Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatments Aren’t Just for Joints
Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal and Kobe Bryant are just a few of the big-name athletes who have used platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat injuries and soft tissue conditions in recent years.
PRP is essentially the re-administering of one’s own blood platelets to activate the body’s natural healing, reparative and regenerative properties. The treatment is becoming popular as a substantially safer alternative to surgical interventions, which often pose serious, long-term complications.
One example of PRP success is a then 27-year old basketball player who was forced into retirement due to persistent knee discomfort. The player underwent 6 knee surgeries prior to retirement, with minimal improvement. After retirement, he underwent PRP therapy and it worked so well he was able to announce his comeback just one year later.
PRP treatments aren’t just for joints. New applications are being developed constantly.
One example of an emerging treatment use for PRP is androgenic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness. Almost 85% of men will experience some degree of hairloss in their lifetime and approximately 95% of these situations are simply the result of genetics.
Hair loss itself is not uncommon. Everyone loses hair regularly, sometimes up to 100 hairs per day, but what happens with androgenic alopecia is the hair follicles shrink over time and cause the hair to grow back thinner each time until the follicle shrinks so much that it stops growing hair entirely.
Several studies have shown that plasma therapy can be a successful option for stopping and possibly reversing hair loss.
The plasma that is used for the treatment, the patient’s plasma, is rich in platelets which contain growth factor proteins. After withdrawing the blood from the patient, it is then put through a process which increases the platelet count by 5 to 10 times the normal concentration. When the PRP is ready, it is injected directly into the scalp at the level of the hair follicles.
After the injection, the growth factors start their job of rejuvenating the hair follicles. They do this by essentially getting the skin cells to start working again.
Current treatments for hair loss are mostly limited to topical or oral treatments that are used separately or in conjunction with each other. Both these treatments come with the possibility of unpleasant side effects ranging from headache and increased body hair growth to loss of libido.
PRP, on the other hand, has relatively minor side effects. It is common to experience minimal pain and redness during the time of injection, as well as pinpoint bleeding at the injection sites.
It seems the future of androgenic alopecia treatment is pointing towards platelet-rich plasma. The future, in fact, of a myriad of other PRP treatment methods to stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal itself seems bright.