What is PRP?
Platelets from our blood contain proteins and growth factors which allow healing in the body. PRP aims to magnify the power of the platelet by collecting and concentrating platelets into a single injection into an injured area.
What are PRP injections used for?
With the healing effect of PRP injections, they work to relieve pain for a variety of conditions such as bursitis arthritis, nerve pain, and tendonitis. PRP is also shown to be effective for hair regrowth when injected into the scalp. This is in part because PRP encourages cell growth. PRP for hair loss research has been mostly focused on androgenetic alopecia (also known as hormone-related baldness which affects men and women).
Does it really work?
Studies have shown, yes. Here’s a breakdown of some evidence:
- A 2014 study of 11 people with male pattern baldness found that injecting 2-3 cubic centimeters of PRP into the scalp every 2 weeks for 3 months increased the average number of hair follicles from 71 to 93 units.
- A 2015 study of 10 people getting injections every 2-3 weeks for 3 months showed improvement in the number of hairs, thickness of hairs, and the strength of the hair root.
- A 2019 study compared two groups using different hair treatments for 6 months. One group used minoxidil (Rogaine) and the other group used PRP injections. The PRP group had much better results than the Rogaine group.
How long does it last, and how many treatments does it take?
Studies show that it may take 1-5 treatments to see results. After you do start seeing results, touch-ups may be needed every 12-24 months. Ideally patients will have PRP injections every 4 weeks for three sessions to start. Some patients may require more than three sessions to see results.
What happens during the injection process?
One or more vials of blood is taken with a venous puncture. The blood is then spun at a fast rate in order for the red blood cells and the plasma and platelets to separate. Once the plasma is separated it is drawn up into a syringe which will be used for the injection. The skin is prepared with antiseptic agents. Numbing cream is applied to the affected areas to reduce discomfort of the injection process. The needle is guided into the selected head space and the solution is injected.
Mild discomfort can be experienced during the injection process.
What are the risks? Are there side effects?
As with all medical procedures, there are risks associated with the administration of any medication, including steroids.
- Allergy to any of the substances used during the process
- Infection (this is rare, but can be serious)
- Local bruising
- Transient increase in pain at injection site (sometimes worse on days 2-3 post injection)