I like being an early adapter of promising technologies. Sometimes, like CoolSculpting® for permanent fat reduction, they are true breakthroughs, with 80-90+ satisfaction rates. Sometimes they are the medical equivalent of a game winning grand slam, like the Miradry® procedure, with a 95+% satisfaction rate with 1-2 treatments, and resulting permanent underarm sweat reduction and odor reduction (and up to 60% underarm hair loss with a single session).
PRP struck me as too good to be true. And a little too “wild west”. So it is only in the last few years that I became more interested again, after publications of clinical trials demonstrated safety efficacy and standardized preparation and dosing.
PRP is platelet rich plasma. It is obtained from you by a simple blood draw from your arm – the blood sample is spun down, and the platelet rich portion is separated within the plasma from the remaining cellular elements of the blood (red and white blood cells). Sort of like oil and water separating – heavy blood cells are spun down, and the platelets remain floating in the plasma above. We then inject the PRP into our targets: unhappy skin, dark under eye circles, or hair challenged scalps.
Think of it like this – when the skin is damaged, the “first responders” in the body are platelets in the surrounding tissue. They glom together, plugging holes to stop bleeding, and importantly, sending out chemical messengers (growth factors) that rally the second and later levels of response that heal the damage and produces newer happier skin. Without platelets – no healing, no rejuvenation. With concentrated platelets (your own!!) – accelerated healing, more collagen and elastin, better results. And no allergy risks because the injection is all you!! No mystery synthetics with unknown long-term consequences.
PRP has been demonstrated to reduce hair loss, to improve thickening of otherwise thinning hair, and to variably resume hair growth in many cases. It clearly works best when there is residual hair – unfortunately it will not grow hair on a bowling ball. It works on men and women. It is inhibited by use of immunosuppressive drugs, and Synthroid use. It works even better if you can take Propecia, but there can be side effects due to Propecia.
A typical regimen for hair regeneration is once monthly injections on the scalp for 4 – 6 months. Cost is less than $1000 per treatment.
I am still amazed at how effectively PRP injections and/or topical applications, combined with fractional CO2 laser, reduces the down times and enhances the results of the laser. Most of our patients have 75% or greater reduction of facial redness from the laser within the first 30 minutes of PRP application. One of our happiest patients saw remarkable improvement in her under eye crepiness within one week of treatment – she could not believe that she had waited more than a year before deciding on the procedure.
You may be carrying the answer to an aesthetic problem within you.
by KENNETH H. JESSER, MD