What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Hair Loss?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments have been around since the 1980s and are an extension of other PRP treatments. When administered to the scalp in the context of hair thinning and hair loss, PRP supplies fresh blood and nutrients via injection. This medical procedure has been used in a variety of other medical settings, including recovery from acute or chronic injury. For hair, this means more hair growth, but only sometimes. The procedure involves drawing from the patient, using a centrifuge to remove red and white blood cells, then injecting the serum fraction directly into the scalp of the patient near the primary area of concern. The treatment itself is expensive, costing up to several thousands of dollars for an initial treatment and often requires 3 additional injections over 3-4 weeks to maintain results. The clinical data describing the effectiveness of PRP is somewhat limited and inconsistent.
Is PRP something I should consider for hair loss?
Although it is expensive and can be a painful procedure, various individuals have seen some clinical benefits. Generally, PRP is viewed as a semi-last resort given the high price, variable discomfort, and general inconsistency in results. Alternatives include topical treatments, including the FDA-approved minoxidil and finasteride, which we cover in other blogs.
When is PRP a bad idea?
During the process of obtaining PRP, a significant amount of blood is withdrawn so any medical condition that could prevent or complicate the blood draw can be a serious concern. Before considering PRP for hair loss, please consult your dermatologist or physician about existing conditions such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, low platelet count, etc. Please also speak with a professional if you are on blood thinners.
What is Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF)? How’s that different from PRP for hair loss?
PRF injections have also been used for managing hair loss. The process of obtaining PRF is similar to PRP. Blood is drawn from the patient, centrifuged, and then a portion of the fractionated blood is reinjected into the patient’s scalp. Similar to PRP, PRF for hair loss increases blood supply to the scalp, which can help with hair growth. The primary difference between PRP and PRF is that PRF relies on centrifuging the patient’s blood sample at a slower rate. What this does is reduce the level of fractionation in the blood, allowing for some white blood cells, progenitor cells, and other stem cells to remain in the PRF liquid when it is reinjected into the patient’s scalp. The theory is that the presence of these cells may help boost hair growth.
What are the Benefits of PRF injections for hair loss over PRP?
As discussed, PRF injections for hair loss separate the blood less than PRP. One benefit is that less blood is needed to administer the same volume of PRF relatively to PRP. This means less blood from you for this treatment process. Another main benefit is that PRF retains some stem cells, which have been purported to help stimulate new hair growth. However, given the lack of clinical studies and a direct, randomized, double-blinded controlled trial comparing PRP and PRF for hair loss head to head, the jury is still out. However, for most other applications where such clinical studies exist, there isn’t a statistically significant difference between the clinical benefits of PRP and PRF.
Should You Get PRF Injections for Hair Loss?
PRF injections and PRP injections are alternatives to topical treatments. There is limited clinical evidence of them working for hair loss, and the evidence is largely based on single digit cases. Despite their popularity, there hasn’t been strong concrete scientific evidence proving that they are excellent, cure-all solutions for the great majority of the population. However, since there is evidence that PRF and PRP may provide your hair with the right foundation for new hair growth, it’s something that you shouldn’t rule out. PRF injections could be made potentially even more beneficial when used in conjunction with other methods.
What Are Alternatives to PRF Injections for Hair Loss?
PRF injections for hair loss go through a similar mechanism as minoxidil, which we have discussed in other blogs. By increasing nutrients directly to the scalp, the hair follicles are given more food to eat and more space to grow. While minoxidil may have some side effects, it’s a significantly less expensive option. A newer and clinically-superior option is ProCelinyl, which we discovered to directly improve hair follicle health to improve the appearance of fuller, thicker hair.