In this day and age of miracle drugs, cancer treatments and regenerated organs, it’s no surprise that medical technology for the treatment of hair loss has advanced right alongside. Today, regenerative medicine now extends to significant regrowth of hair for both men and women, helping them return to a more youthful appearance and more confident approach to life.

Most likely, before you seriously consider the treatment, you’ll want answers to a few questions.

For instance, how exactly does regenerative medicine – more specifically, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy – help with hair loss? What is the process like and for whom does it work? How many treatments are needed, and are there any risks and side effects of which to be aware?

By the end of this article, you’ll have the information you need to make the best decision for you.


What is PRP?


According to OrthoInfo, it’s a substance distilled from blood: “Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets). The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.”

These platelets are readily available in blood, but not at high enough concentrations to prove useful in the treatment of hair loss and other conditions (i.e. wrinkles, oral healing, joint pain).

Therefore, you have to concentrate them by putting blood into a centrifuge until the platelets conglomerate, creating a solution with 5-10 times the normal number of such cells. This is what’s known as platelet-rich plasma.


What Is PRP Therapy?


The power of PRP lies in the growth factors contained within. These growth factors send a signal to hair follicles that have stopped growing to start producing hair once more. Platelets also “help promote hair growth by prolonging the growing phase of the hair cycle,” says The Cleveland Clinic.

In other words, by sending the right chemical signals to your scalp, platelets encourage you to grow more hair and to slow down the cycle of birth and regrowth, leaving your hair in place for longer.


How Does the Process Work for Hair Loss?


Once they have the PRP solution in hand, physicians inject across a wide swath of your head. “The process is meticulous – with injections beginning across the scalp, approximately at every half inch over the area of thinning hair,” explains Allure, “but typically, the entire procedure takes less than a half hour.”

For most patients, the first sign that the therapy is working is a reduction in hair loss. From there, they will notice regrowth and increased hair length due to stronger strands. The results don’t last forever – after the initial monthly treatments for 3-4 months, patients typically need to re-up every 3 to 6 months. However, results often aggregate over time, with hair becoming thicker as you continue with the therapy.


Whom Does It Work For?


PRP treatment can help anyone, man or woman, who experiences hair loss. It is most effective when loss is first detected, although regrowing hair from bald patches is also possible (if not nearly as productive).

The most responsive patients are those with alopecia, which is a condition that causes hair loss across the top of the head, while leaving a more normal amount of hair on the back and sides. For men, this looks like the typical balding pattern, while for women, it usually manifests as a widening part and thinner hair on the crown.

Some patients, however, probably won’t see good results from PRP therapy, explains The Cleveland Clinic.

That includes people who:

  • Have a disorder such as thyroid disease or lupus, which is causing hair loss as a secondary condition, in which case the loss will likely return
  • Are on blood thinners, because the platelets themselves are less effective


Otherwise, though, anyone experiencing hair loss should feel free to speak to a physician about the possibility of treatment. If it doesn’t work, you can stop at any time during the process to avoid overspending on a therapy that isn’t for you.


Common Risks and Side Effects


For the most part, there are very few risks associated with PRP therapy. Rather, it “is an especially safe treatment option with no risk of allergic reaction because it is your own blood,” says SpineMD. This preempts graft-versus host disease, a condition that may result from using substances from a donor rather than your own body.

However, you should always share any medical conditions you have with your doctor before moving forward with any procedure, PRP hair treatment included.

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