We have come a long way in the arena hair restoration over the last several decades. In fact, there are now a number of clinically proven techniques whereby age-related hair loss can be reversed in otherwise healthy people. There are also some emerging technologies now being looked at for hair restoration, including the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatments.
At Orchid Aesthetics, we already use PRP therapy for skin rejuvenation. It is a great option for people wanting a more natural treatment as opposed to something utilizing pharmaceutical products or synthetic fillers. We are thrilled that research is ongoing to see whether PRP can be clinically proven to help with hair restoration or not. If it can, it will give men and women suffering from age-related hair loss yet another option for natural restoration.
Plasma in the Blood and PRP in Hair Restoration
Human blood is made up of four basic substances: red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma is the yellowish fluid in which the other three substances are suspended. It makes up approximately 50% of total blood volume. Without plasma, the red and white cells and platelets would not have a vehicle to travel through the circulatory system.
The idea behind PRP is to isolate plasma and platelets without the red and white blood cells. The isolated plasma also contains bioactive proteins and two growth factors known as PDGF and VEGF. The growth factors and proteins are essential for wound healing and cell regeneration.
Creating platelet rich plasma is not a difficult task in principle. It begins by extracting blood from the patient just as it would be done for lab tests. The blood is then put into a centrifuge to separate out the red and white cells. What is left is the PRP substance we are after. That plasma can then be used for whatever therapeutic purpose the doctor has in mind.
PRP therapy is routinely used for all sorts of medical purposes. It is used in sports medicine to promote faster healing of tendons and ligaments; cardiologists use it to promote healing and tissue regeneration in the cardiovascular system. Even dentists are known to use PRP therapy for major jaw reconstruction.
PRP in Hair Restoration
Hair thinning and loss related to age is a direct result of hair follicles shrinking and dying. As a hair follicle shrinks, it can no longer support the long, thick hair we are used to as young adults. Eventually a follicle will not be able to support any hair at all. PRP may help reverse that trend.
Current research with PRP is aimed at helping transplanted hair follicles be more productive in hair growth. A doctor will treat the newly transplanted follicles with the concentrated plasma, expecting the proteins to promote the healing of the wound at the graft site while the growth factors stimulate the follicle to grow, expand, and accommodate a thick strand of hair.
Even without PRP support, follicular unit transplantation (FUT) is fairly successful for hair restoration. Nevertheless, if it can be made better with PRP therapy, perhaps more patients would benefit from it.
PRP is also being considered as a hair restoration treatment without the need for follicular unit transplantation. Some researchers believe it might be possible to use PRP to stimulate current hair follicles to regenerate new tissue, grow, and expand in place. Of course, this would only apply to those follicles that have not yet died off. It is just a theory at this point, but researchers are looking at it seriously.
The good news is that we no longer have to live with age-related hair loss. There are several options patients can choose from to transplant or help regrow natural hair. We hope that PRP will be a big part of many of these therapies moving forward.