Platelet Rich Plasma And Non-Surgical Hair Restoration Techniques

Posted on the 05 December 2018 at 10:00

We all like to look our best, be it for family, friends or at business and social gatherings. Strong, shiny hair can be a first meet indicator that we are both healthy and confident, allowing us to give all the situations of life our best shot.

Within the hair transplantation sector, there is a strong technological interest in the use of ´Low Level Light Therapy´, using special caps for combining the use of so called ‘cold ‘ laser light and/or LED (Light Emitting Diode) which are applied through the patient when wearing a surgical cap. This technique allows light at a safely prescribed wavelength to penetrate and stimulate the cells that encourage fresh follicular growth.

Although non-invasive, this technique needs more study and although some positive results have been reported in the past, especially for sufferers of Androgenetic Alopecia, the use of laser light is unlikely to work for everyone - especially those suffering from premature or hereditary baldness.

One relatively new area within the realms of aesthetic body improvement interest is the development of non-surgical hair restoration (using a still relatively controversial) non-surgical procedure which I shall discuss at length. Traditionally and for male clients in particular who suffer from pattern hair loss - drugs such as Finasteride, Minoxidil and even vitamin D doses have been prescribed to at least ¨delay or reduce the progression of hair loss by opening up cell channels and so allowing an increase in the flow of oxygen, blood and scalp nutrients to directly reach the hair follicles in greater concentration.¨ These however can only be thought of as temporary solutions as any visible benefits start to reduce after 6 months or so should the treatment stop before running its entire course.

Patients may be happy to carry on with using such drugs for follicular stimulation, but the downside is that they may still lose hair from other areas; and another technique of physically transplanting healthy hairs individually into areas of the scalp can be prohibitively expensive, depending on the quantity and quality of the donor hair follicle.

Symptoms of hair loss that should always be taken seriously can be noticed as follows:

  • Loss of small or significant patches of hair.
  • Areas of baldness.
  • Increasingly visible hairline.
  • Loss of hair volume.

A much more minimally invasive treatment which is causing a great deal of excitement in the industry is PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). This is a technique which is available for both sexes and can be used to encourage regeneration of thicker and healthy looking hair. PRP can also benefit medical conditions such as Alopecia, for example, where the patient has suffered hair loss due to illness, stress or other complications that may or may not be age related.

As an established method of treatment, aesthetic professionals are starting to take the technique more seriously in recent years. In 2017, The American Academy of Dermatology´s Summer congress cited Dr. Neil Sadick of the Weill Cornell Medical College who stated that "PRP is a tool that deserved more attention and needed a standardized protocol of treatment".

So, is the jury really still out regarding the PRP procedure? Well, the first thing of importance to make clear to any prospective client is that the technique outlined here will not re-grow hair. The basic premise of the technique is to harvest the plasma rich platelets (PRP’s) from the patients´ own body blood supply - to encourage the regeneration of healthy cell follicles (which are the ´sheath of cells´ surrounding the root of a healthy hair strand). This gives the advantage that the cells are from the patients´ own body, so there is no chance of a rejection because the donor material is completely natural, having being produced by the host.

So, let’s take a closer look at exactly how this non-invasive PRP technique works. Human blood contains Mesenchymal stem cells that have essential nutrients and growth factors within them. Such growth factors have been well established and used in wound healing for over two decades in Europe and America, with PRP establishing itself as the partial treatment in Neurosurgery ,Oral and Cosmetic Surgeries. The patients’ blood is extracted in the normal way - but before it is prepared for treatment, it’s important to ensure the patient does not suffer from a history of heavy smoking or drug and alcohol use.

There is however, a corresponding and wide ranging list of criteria under which PRP should not be undertaken; these include the following:

  • Sepsis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Anti-coagulation Therapies
  • Platelet Dysfunction Syndromes
  • Hyperfibrinogenemia
  • Acute and Chronic Infection
  • Hemodynamic Instability

Although this is not a comprehensive list, any prospective patient will be scrutinized to ensure that he/she is suitable for an effective treatment of PRP and a full disclosure from all parties is essential to ensure an optimum benefit from any proposed treatment. As always, if in doubt then consult your Aesthetic Professional before undertaking any type of procedure, both related to hair regeneration or otherwise.

Once the blood has been drawn from the patient, it is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the Plasma Rich Platelets into a higher concentration. These platelets are arranged and any impurities are removed before the patients scalp is prepared. It can cause significant worry for the patient, if they do not know what to expect of the procedure, but by assuring them that the scalp is sufficiently Anesthetized to eliminate pain will give a good degree of comfort. This is also undertaken before the scalp is injected with the newly prepared PRP serum that will stimulate the hair follicles growth.

The introduction of these platelets cells will promote healing within the scalp area which has been injected and this in turn will cause a regeneration in and around the environment of the hair follicles; stimulating any inactive growth into a new growth phase. After the application, the scalp is then washed gently to remove any residues from the procedure. Some patients may have to rest up depending upon the strength of the Anaesthetic applied to the scalp, but any resulting discomfort and recovery time is minimum.

Hair loss can vary greatly between individuals, so the resulting potential for new growth or the initiated re-growth of dormant hair using PRP varies accordingly with each patient. Although the jury is still out on the method, there are a number of promising elements within the PRP field that may aid hair growth in a positive manner, these include:

  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor which promotes blood vessel growth, cell and skin replication.
  • Transforming Growth Factor –Beta, encouraging growth between cells and bone.
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor for blood vessel formation.
  • Epidermal Growth Factor for cell and collagen formation.
  • Insulin like Growth Factor which is a physiological regulator for all cell types within the body.

Although there are no guarantees about absolute regeneration of fresh hair follicles, established hair can look thicker and healthier after the treatment. There is much anecdotal evidence that the existing non-invasive drugs can be continued while the PRP is being undertaken and these can be repeated as an additional complimentary treatment, if so required.

At the time of writing, no adverse effects have been recorded in using Plasma Rich Platelets in combination with Minoxidil or Finasteride drugs (or even laser light and vitamin D) to promote stimulation within the scalp. The bottom line is that as the research of anecdotal evidence regarding PRP gives way to rigorous procedures (to fully test it as a scientific discipline), there still remain some questions remaining as to how potent it is in benefiting the patient and aesthetic professional alike.

Until the methodology for its application is much better established, it still has quite some time to go before it becomes another fully referenced weapon in which to enhance the patient’s physical well-being.

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