During the past several years, much has been written about a preparation called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and its potential effectiveness in the treatment of injuries, skin and hair rejuvenation.
Actress Angelina Jolie has been reported to have received PRP injections in her face to boost collagen & elastin in order to perpetuate her youthful beauty. As, the collagen production was incremented with blood derived miraculous plasma growth factors hence, the term “Vampire Facelift” got popular in the aesthetic circles. The treatment triumphed to give Jolie’s face a glowing look & also smoothed out wrinkles.
Many famous athletes — Tiger Woods, tennis star Rafael Nadal, and several others — have received PRP for various problems, such as sprained knees and chronic tendon injuries. These types of conditions have typically been treated with medications, physical therapy, or even surgery. Some athletes have credited PRP with their being able to return more quickly to competition.
Even though PRP has received extensive publicity, there are still lingering questions about it, such as:
- What exactly is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?
- How does it work?
- What conditions are being treated with PRP?
- Is PRP treatment effective?
What Is Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)?
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.
PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater or richer than usual.
To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
How Does PRP Work?
Although it is not exactly clear how PRP works, laboratory studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP can potentially speed up the healing and rejuvenating process.
For skin rejuvenation the non-surgical PRP procedure stimulates injured cells to heal and regenerate themselves. The PRP treatment stimulates the growth of cells, effectively smoothening out lines and folds, and diminishing, if not, erasing in time signs of aging.
What Conditions are treated with PRP? Is It Effective?
Research studies are currently being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of PRP treatment. At this time, the results of these studies are inconclusive because the effectiveness of PRP therapy can vary. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of PRP treatment include:
- The area of the body being treated
- The age and overall health of the patient
- While treating injuries; whether the injury is acute (such as from a fall) or chronic (an injury developing over time
- While treating hair loss; causes & degree of hair loss
- While treating skin and aging; amount of chrono, solar and lifestyle associated aging damage
Treatment with platelet-rich plasma holds great promise. Currently, however, the research studies to back up the claims in the media are lacking. Although PRP does appear to be effective in the skin and face rejuvenating treatments, the medical community needs more scientific evidence before it can determine whether PRP therapy is truly effective in other conditions. Even though the success of PRP therapy is still questionable, the risks associated with it are minimal. Reported cases in achieving skin rejuvenation are quiet promising. I personally look forward to watching the evolution of this potentially thaumaturgic non surgical procedure.