So what is PRP? PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma, which is a natural component found in your blood. Platelets contain various growth factors including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), Platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and various interleukins (IL) to name a few. These factors can stimulate hair follicle growth and facilitate thicker, denser follicles creating a richer, rejuvenated head of hair. In addition to minimizing hair loss and thinning, PRP has also been linked to improved scalp health with decreased dandruff and alleviation of some scalp conditions such as dermatitis.
PRP is obtained by drawing a small sample of your blood. This is then placed in a special centrifuge that separates out the plasma layer which is isolated and directly injected into your scalp in the areas of concern. The platelets located within the plasma are then activated by use of microneedling which is performed with a special pen. The process takes between 45 minutes to an hour with little to no down time expected. Because the plasma is autologous, which means it comes from your own body, there are few potential side affects, concerns for complications or untoward reactions making this an extremely safe procedure.
Though results will vary, you will need a series of treatments with 3-4 recommended sessions spaced approximately 6-8 weeks apart. Following completion of your treatments we recommend once to biannual treatments for maintenance. You can expect to see growth within 2-3 months, usually after the 2nd or 3rd treatment. Unfortunately, short of a surgical hair transplant procedure, there are no non-surgical hair treatment options that don’t require repeat treatments; however, PRP is the only natural treatment option available.
In order to make the process comfortable, the scalp is cleansed and topical numbing agents are applied and allowed to work for 25-30 minutes after which the scalp is additionally numbed with Lidocaine, similar to going to the dentist. There is also an option to receive prescription pain medications and anxiolytics if you are particularly sensitive, but this will require an escort after the procedure.
Prior to the procedure, all you need to do is wash your hair with a gentle shampoo. Since only small needles are used, no wounds are created and bleeding is minimal. You will be allowed to wash your hair 24 hours after the procedure and no additional care is required. Most people experience minimal redness and within 24 hours can hardly see any evidence that a procedure was performed, so treatment remains inconspicuous.
It should be stated that PRP is not currently FDA approved for use in hair growth but the process is well underway. PRP has been used and FDA approved in various other applications with supporting literature including bone growth and regeneration in both orthopaedic and oral surgery. The same growth factors are exploited to enhance growth of other cell types. Again, because these are your body’s own natural growth factors, the procedure is extremely safe with virtually no risks of adverse reactions.
Does PRP actually work for hair growth? Many practitioners are beginning to offer PRP injections using various systems and various additives that could inflate the price of your procedure and offer little additional benefit. There are several systems that can be compared that are used to prepare plasma with varying levels of platelet recovery, concentrating potential and volume of PRP produced. We use a system, which recovers over 87% of platelets, creating concentrations up to 6 times and providing up to 6 ml of PRP per vial. These numbers represent some of the highest numbers among all the systems used to prepare PRP which gives you the best potential for hair growth. We activate these platelets mechanically with use of microneedling and reduce the cost by avoiding expensive additives.
So what actually motivates people to undergo non surgical hair rejuvenation and who can benefit from it? Hair loss is devastating both physically and emotionally and doesn’t discriminate based off of color, gender or age. Many patients describe feelings of embarrassment, shame and a complete loss of confidence. I’ve also had many patients share stories of situations where people have made hurtful comments regarding their hair loss. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve had people seek treatment to simply rejuvenating their scalp and hair in hopes of richer, fuller hair. PRP can also be used as a bridge to hair transplant or as a means of increasing the rate of hair growth for individuals who opt to undergo hair transplantation. Many patients suffer hair loss due to genetic factors alone or from medications, side affects of various medical treatments and numerous medical conditions including thyroid diseases or trauma with scarring. Treatable conditions must be addressed prior to considering PRP as the treatment will not be effective in patients with active issues.
So what do patients say after treatment? Below is an actual comment from a patient who received treatment:
“After having had a hair transplant a number of years ago, I wanted to try the PRP hair treatment to see if I could get even more hair growth. While I was extremely happy with the hair transplant I wanted to see more growth but do not have the healing time to go through a surgical procedure such as hair transplantation. I have just finished my 3rd PRP treatment and I am impressed with the increased hair growth I see thus far. I’m told I will see more especially after my last treatment. The healing time for this is literally one day! I went back to work the very next day after the procedure without anyone knowing! I was in the office about an hour and experienced virtually no pain. I would highly recommend this procedure for anyone looking for more hair. It’s easy, it works, it’s basically painless and it’s affordable…not to mention Dr. Slaughter is great! “
Unfortunately, other than an actual hair transplantation, which can require multiple sessions, there are no non-surgical treatments that are permanent and they all require continued treatment to maintain hair growth. The advantage to PRP is that it’s actually your body’s own natural growth factors and once you complete 3 or 4 sessions you will only require once to biannual treatments to maintain growth with no major side affects. Certainly multimodality treatment (use of various non surgical treatments) can optimize growth but if you are not interested in taking medication daily or applying hair creams, or buying expensive lighting caps, then PRP may be the most natural option for you to consider.
You may have heard of people or even have friends who have tried PRP and say they didn’t see growth. Again, individual results will vary, but it’s important to determine if you are a candidate for PRP as not all people will be. You must have follicles, whether dormant or miniaturized in order to experience growth. PRP does not generate follicles it simply stimulates those that are dormant and promotes denser, thicker follicles that result in richer, fuller hair. At your consultation we will discuss the nature of your hair concerns, I will examine your scalp, and we will determine if PRP would be a good option for you in a thorough and personalized process.
We will also be offering additional supplements and products to help optimize your result. So, if you are experiencing hair loss and thinning or simply want to rejuvenate your hair with a natural, safe procedure call today for a consultation to see if PRP is right for you. You can also check out my series of YouTube videos where I answer specific questions and discuss additional details about PRP and use of scalp microneeding for hair growth.
Keimun A Slaughter M.D.