What is Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP)?
Human blood is made up of four main components: plasma, or the liquid in which the components of blood are suspended, red and white blood cells, and platelets, which are needed for clotting.
Platelet-rich plasma is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets, reaching about five times the normal concentration.
It is used to treat a variety of issues, including sports injuries, joint pain, incontinence and baldness, among others.
Its utility comes from its high concentration of growth factors, which are proteins and other substances that stimulate growth and healing in the body.
What does PRP treat?
PRP for Joint Pain:
PRP can be injected directly into sore joints in order to alleviate pain and stiffness. It can also be combined with a stem cell treatment in order to augment the results of both forms of therapy.
In a 2012 study published in the journal Sports Health, PRP injections were shown to be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Patients treated with two injections of PRP showed “significant improvement” in their symptoms over the course of 12 months, with many able to return to the physical activities they had taken part in before the development of their symptoms.
PRP for Women’s Health:
Women who have trouble with incontinence or lack of sexual response may want to look into PRP injections as well. These common symptoms of aging can cause serious emotional distress, and PRP may be able to resolve them.
Injecting PRP into the area of the urethral sphincter can help with incontinence, and clitoral and G-spot injections can increase sexual pleasure.
A study in Neurourology and Urodynamics found that injections of total nucleated cells (TNCs) and platelets into the urethral sphincter were able to completely resolve problems with urinary incontinence for all nine participating patients.
For women who suffer from incontinence, this treatment can eliminate the stress and embarrassment that comes with the disorder.
There have also been studies indicating that injecting PRP into the vagina and clitoris can help to treat female sexual dysfunction (FSD).
According to the study, about 40 percent of sexually active women in the U.S. will experience FSD at some point during their lifetime, and symptoms can range from pain during intercourse to the inability to have an orgasm.
By measuring participants’ level of sexual dysfunction before and after clitoral and vaginal PRP injections, the researchers were able to determine that PRP may be a promising treatment for the disorder.
PRP for Hair Regrowth:
Injecting PRP directly into the scalp has been shown to reverse hair loss in patients with androgenic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness.
This common condition can cause low self-esteem and even depression due to the stigma against baldness and aging in society and the workplace.
A 2014 study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery found that when balding men received PRP injections to the scalp, they lost less hair in a “hair pull test,” and the hair they had increased in volume and scalp coverage.
A similar study also published in 2014 in BioMed Research International showed an increase in the mean number of hairs and hair follicles as well as greater hair density in balding men who were treated with PRP injections as compared to a control group.
PRP for Aesthetics:
Finally, PRP is a promising therapy for the aesthetic improvement of the skin. If you suffer from acne scars or otherwise bumpy, uneven skin, PRP may be able to rejuvenate your skin and restore its smoothness and elasticity.
This is achieved mainly through micro needle therapy, which uses a device with a tiny needle much like a tattoo machine to penetrate the skin and drive the PRP to a deeper level, allowing it to heal the damaged skin from within.
Microneedling is also used in the cosmetic surgery field to inject collagen into the face, but PRP therapy takes the concept a step further, inducing the skin to heal itself.
One major study that supports the use of PRP for the improvement of skin aesthetics was published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery in 2014.
Thirty patients with significant facial acne scarring were treated with PRP microneedling procedures. Of these 30, 23 experienced improvement in the appearance of their scars, and seven had “excellent” results.
Another 2014 study from Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that PRP can be equally useful as an accompaniment to other cosmetic skin treatments, such as laser resurfacing.
These treatments can cause skin irritation and come with a long recovery time. The study looked at patients with acne scars who had undergone laser resurfacing treatments, some of whom had also been treated with PRP and some who hadn’t.
The results clearly showed that the patients who received PRP treatment in addition to laser resurfacing were significantly better off, with less scarring, fewer side effects and faster healing time than those who received only the laser treatment.