I’m Losing My Hair! Can PRP Therapy Help?
I’m Losing My Hair! Can PRP Therapy Help?
Welcome to the club, but we’re sorry you’re experiencing this! Hair loss and hair thinning are extremely common problems and affect around 50 million men and 30 million women around the world, and have a wide variety of causes. Whether it’s your personal diet, high stress levels, your suffering from alopecia, or it’s a side effect of another autoimmune disease, one thing is always true; hair loss and thinning hair is a tough and personal issue to deal with on a daily basis. And despite the fact that it impacts millions across the world, hair loss treatments vary in levels of reliability and success, and it’s difficult to know how reliable or based on science any specific treatment is. For this reason, success levels are difficult to measure or trust, and the distress from hair loss has reportedly been linked to depression, low self-esteem, decreased confidence, and other psychological impacts. But platelet-rich plasma injection therapy might offer a little bit of light for you.
PRP Therapy for Hair Loss
Platelet-rich plasma, also referred to as PRP, is an extract of concentrated platelets from your blood, which contact small packets of growth hormones and cytokines (proteins that help regulate the immune system) that increase the rebuilding of your tissues in the treated area (2). Platelets are extremely small, only about 20% of one red blood cell’s diameter, and make up a tiny portion of our blood volume. Their main job in the body is to prevent bleeding, but lucky for us, PRP therapy has delivered other useful ways to utilize these tiny fragments of our blood cells. Overall, Platelet-rich plasma utilizes the proteins and growth hormones within platelets to help accelerate healing in different areas of the body. For example, PRP injections can help increase blood flow, stimulate new cell growth, and assist in creating the glowy, supple skin that many of us long for. This type of therapy might also be an effective treatment for hair loss and the restoration of hair growth, an exciting prospect for those yet to find effective treatments.
Is this therapy backed by science?
Yes! Over the last few years, researchers have conducted varying trials focused on PRP therapy specifically for hair loss, and namely for those suffering from androgenetic alopecia. More commonly referred to as male pattern baldness, this is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in “patchy” and unpredictable hair loss. Male pattern baldness affects roughly 7 million people in the United States alone, with the majority of cases affecting young people under the age of 30. As you can expect, young people suffering from sudden and unpredictable hair loss naturally creates desperation for understanding treatment options and the ability to slow or reverse the effects of this disorder. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. However, Medical News Today offers three instances that prominent studies of suggested PRP as a solution – both for those with alopecia and those with other types of hair loss.
- International Journal of Women’s Dermatology’s 2018 study evaluates female pattern baldness, which will affect a staggering 50% of women at some point in their lifetime. Unlike male pattern baldness, this typically advances for women later and life and during menopause. They found this type of treatment promising but noted that standardized treatment protocols would help determine effectiveness.
- Dermatologic Surgery featured a study in 2019 that compiled the results from 19 studies and 460 people. The majority of patients across all studies reported PRP treatments led to hair regrowth for patients with alopecia.
- In another 2019 study, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s journal published an analysis from data across 11 different research papers and 262 patients with alopecia and also found that the majority of patients experienced regrowth. While the sample size was small, researches found that PRP injections lead to the increased diameter of the patient’s hair and that the density of hair growth also increased.
How does this compare to Rogaine?
While Rogaine has proven to be effective for some, the group that this treatment works for is extremely specific. For example, Rogaine will only work for the treatment of hair loss if the reason for the loss is hereditary, and if the hair loss occurs at the top and back of the person’s scalp. Studies are Rogaine show effectiveness in about 60% of patients who completed treatment. While PRP treatment for hair loss is still widely un-studied, the preliminary results and research are promising. In fact, a 2019 study compared Rogaine (referred to in this study as minoxidil) with PRP therapy, where 20 people used Rogaine, and 20 used PRP treatments for 6 months, and all participants suffered from alopecia. Of the original 40 participants, 30 completed the trial, and those using PRP had a better outcome than those using the Rogaine treatment (Verma 2019).
Is PRP treatment for hair loss painful?
Not really! Obviously, injections are uncomfortable, but PRP treatments are generally not painful to go through. This usually depends on what area of the body is being treated, but you and Dr. Wright can put a plan together to make sure you’re comfortable and don’t feel any unnecessary pain or discomfort during PRP Therapy, such as topical anesthesia and icing of the areas. Patients can return to their daily routine immediately after treatment, so there’s little downtime to be concerned with. Side effects for some patients include tenderness on the areas of the scalp that were treated, swelling, headaches, itching, mild pain at the injection site, and temporarily bleeding at the injection site.
What should I expect during my PRP injection sessions?
The entire process takes about one hour, and you can work with Dr. Wright on how many PRP Therapy sessions you’ll personally require for the appropriate treatment. Here’s a basic summary of what to expect on the day of PRP treatment for your hair loss:
1-Drawing Blood and Extracting Platelets
- When you arrive at Dr. Wright’s office for your first PRP therapy session for your hair loss, the first thing we’ll do is take a small blood sample from you at your arm. Then, we use a centrifuge to isolate your red blood cells from the platelets. During this process, the centrifuge spins the blood at a high speed, which separates the components of it. After these are separated, the plasma and platelets are combined with growth factors.
2-Re-injecting the Platelet-Rich Plasma
- You and Dr. Wright will already have a plan for where the specific injection sites are for the current PRP therapy session. Once the plasma and platelets are ready, they will be injected at these sites on your scalp, stimulating the body to naturally produce growth and increased hair density in these areas. These PRP injections are using your body’s own healing properties to help bring back your hair!
When will I see results?
Everybody is different, and it’s hard to tell how you’re scalp will react to treatment. In some, small hair may start regrowing as early as after the second PRP therapy session, but multiple sessions will be required for significant results to be seen. In others, it may take more sessions and more post-session time before you start to see results in hair growth and density. After all your initial sessions are completed, it’s highly likely you’ll also need to continue treatment for touch-ups at least annually, but this could be as often as every 3 to 6 months, depending on your personal needs. This plan should be determined with Dr. Wright and will be specific to your scalp and your desired results.
How do I get started?
The first step is to contact Dr. Wright and our team at St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center to schedule your initial consultation and to learn more about the PRP services and other skincare services we are proud to offer our patients. Keeping safety and comfort top of mind, you can be sure that your experience will be one that puts you first, and we’ll discuss what options are best for your personal needs.
We can’t wait to begin this journey to change with you!
Verma K, Tegta GR, Verma G, Gupta M, Negi A, Sharma R. A study to compare the efficacy of platelet-rich plasma and minoxidil therapy for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 29];11:68-79. Available from: http://www.ijtrichology.com/text.asp?2019/11/2/68/255701