Hair fall can be a symptom of a lot of underlying diseases. The most common causes of hair fall are stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance (such as hypothyroidism), and autoimmune diseases (like lupus).
Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy or PRP therapy is a relatively new approach towards the treatment of hair loss, although physicians began using this technique a decade ago to speed up the healing process of injured joints (sports injuries).
Dermatologists have now started using PRP therapy for hair loss after studies showed that high concentrations of platelets (blood cells that play a role in clotting) can help promote hair growth by stretching out the growth phase (anagen) of the hair cycle.
Let’s have a look at PRP therapy.
What is PRP Therapy?
“PRP” stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma and is a new novel way of treating skin and hair problems. Platelets are rich in growth factors that can induce the growth of any cells, such as hair root cells (papilla cells), collagen cells (fibroblast), or joint cells (synovial membrane cells).
How is PRP Prepared?
PRP is prepared from your blood. Around 20 to 25 ml of blood is withdrawn in a PRP kit or in small vials and spun in a centrifuge machine. This spin separates the blood into its various constituents; like red cells on the bottom, plasma on the top (called platelet-poor plasma), and platelets in the middle (on top of the red blood cell layer) known as the “buffy coat”.
The buffy coat is further concentrated by fast spins, activated with calcium, and kept in small syringes to inject into scalp skin.
Who Can Take PRP Therapy?
PRP therapy is like induction therapy. Theoretically, it should be effective in all types of hair loss. But commonly, it is given in male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), female pattern baldness, alopecia areata (spot baldness), and prior to hair transplant therapy.
What Are The Steps Involved in This Therapy?
It is a 3 step procedure that involves drawing a sample of your blood, centrifugation, and injecting the centrifuged blood into the scalp. It takes around 1.5 hours to complete the therapy. A numbing cream is applied over the scalp for 30 minutes to reduce pain and discomfort.
Sometimes, prior to therapy, local anaesthesia may be given to make it completely painless. Once the region has been numbed, the PRP is injected deep into the skin at hair roots by multiple pricks.
This therapy is given every month (4 to 6 weeks apart) for 4 to 6 months. Maintenance therapy can be taken once every 3 to 6 months.
Will There be Any Pain or Discomfort During Therapy?
It causes mild pain which is tolerable.
How Effective is The Therapy?
PRP therapy will prolong the growth phase of the existing hair thereby reducing hair fall, and reverse hair thinning, which ultimately gives volume/density.
How Long Does it Take to See The Results?
Initially, you will see improvement in hair fall. The visible changes, however, can take about 4 to 6 months.
What Are The Side Effects of PRP Therapy?
Since it is your own blood that is used, there are barely any serious side effects. However, like any other procedure, it does have a few side effects (mild swelling over eyelids, pain, and pinpoint bleeding) which resolve within 3 to 4 days and are completely manageable.
Allergy test with local anaesthesia is often done before therapy to avoid any adverse reactions.
What Are The Precautions to be Taken Before PRP Therapy?
It is an office-based procedure with no downtime. You can resume work the next day.
Your physician/trichologist may ask you to avoid steroids and blood thinner medications for a few days.
Avoid rubbing or scratching the scalp for a few days.
It is recommended to shampoo your hair the next day (after 24 hours, preferably).
Limit your exposure to the sun for a few days.
Avoid using harsh chemicals on the scalp for at least 3 to 4 days after the procedure.
Avoid sweating, exercising, and high-intensity physical activity for 2 to 5 days post-procedure.
Well, it is true that there is no ‘sure-shot treatment’ for hair loss. A combination of therapies would be recommended as the studies are in favour of multimodality treatment of hair loss (PRP therapy + topical/oral medicines).
To date, medicines have been on top of the list for hair loss but PRP therapy has shown a good effect when given in combination with medicines, although results may vary from person to person based on a lot of factors, including genetics. PRP therapy is a simple, cost-effective, and feasible option for the treatment of hair loss.
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