What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma also known as PRP is a part of blood that holds the highest concentration of platelet and stem cells. To answer this question better first we must explain what plasma is. Plasma is the liquid part of blood that contains the cells in the vessel (including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and some stem cells). Platelet-rich plasma is obtained by separating the part of plasma from the whole blood that has a high concentration of platelets and stem cells. This procedure is done differently in different available systems usually using a centrifuge device. Different centrifuge systems produce different concentration of platelet-rich plasma, therefore, it is important to understand what type of system is used to separate this product as the outcomes of using PRP is dependent on the platelet and stem cell concentration.
PRP continues to advance in different treatment modalities and impress us with the outcomes. PRP injection has become an important modality in different areas of dermatology including hair restoration, skin rejuvenation, treatment of rhytids (wrinkles), acne scar improvement, treatment of stretch marks, treatment of golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow. A combination of PRP with other modalities including micro-needling, laser therapies, and dermal fillers has shown to be more effective in different scenarios than the use of each one alone.
How do PRP injections work?
PRP has been used for quite some time in different medical fields including cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics, and plastic surgery. Mostly, it was used in these fields to improve the healing of the scars. Platelets have exceedingly small granules containing different mediators including several different growth factors. A particular type of granules in platelets called alpha granules can release factors that promote stem cell regeneration and stimulate soft-tissue regeneration including collagen and elastin that have a key role in improving skin health.
There are many different growth factors that can be released from platelets, just to name a couple, alpha granules hold platelet-derived growth factors (type AA, BB, and AB), an endothelial growth factor that improves new vessel regeneration, epithelial glow factor, insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and so on. These factors can improve cell regeneration, differentiation of stem cells to the cells required for regeneration of cells under the skin or on the surface of the skin, differentiation of stem cells to hair follicles, improving the growth of new vessels required for support of newly produced collagen, elastin, and hair follicles.
How does PRP treatment work?
PRP treatment can be applied in different ways for example PRP can be applied to the surface of the skin and then using a micro-needling device pushed under the skin. PRP can be injected into many areas of the body for different treatment purposes or can be used as a conjunction treatment with other fillers or fat transplantation.
What can be treated with PRP injections?
- PRP hair restoration: PRP can be applied to the scalp and then with the help of a micro-needling device the platelets can be pushed under the scalp to release the growth factors they hold which in turn will improve blood flow to the hair follicles, reactivates hibernating hair follicles, converts stem cells to hair follicles, and overall increases the number and thickness of the growing hair.
- PRP treatment for skin rejuvenation: the platelets can be pushed under the skin to release the growth factors under the skin surface using a micro needling device promoting the production of subcutaneous fat (the type of fat that improves the look of the skin, this type of fatty tissue is usually decreased by aging or sun damage), or it can be injected to different areas as a filler or in conjunction with a filler.
- PRP injection for tendinitis including tennis elbow and golfers’ elbow
- PRP injection for non-healing wounds
- PRP injection into knees, shoulders, or elbows for osteoarthritis
Injection of PRP to the scalp not only releases the growth factors that will help the hibernating hair follicles to start growing hair again but also helps to replenish hair follicles that are not growing anymore by the stem cells and turning the stem cells into new hair follicles.