A very hot topic recently is the use of Platelet Rich Plasma (“PRP”) in people with hair loss. It is argued to be a “stimulation” therapy for hair loss of any non-scarring cause. The multiple skin growth factors living inside platelets (the blood cells responsible for clotting) are utilised to stimulate hair follicles by “cracking open” the patient’s own platelets after the blood has been spun down in a centrifuge. These growth factors are then re-injected into the scalp in areas of thinning hair as hair loss treatments for men and female hair loss.
The idea has been around for a while and has been used successfully in facial skin (the “vampire facelift”) where collage and elastin fibres are stimulated to re-invigorate skin cells. The evidence for hair stimulation unfortunately has not been strong. We do know that PRP is helpful with wound healing but it is less clear which thinning hair patients might benefit. It is worth remembering that also inside the platelets are “hair inhibiting” factors as well as the hair stimulating factors. One problem with PRP is that the technique has no stringent set of rules and different techniques seem to produce different results. Recent research has looked at whether higher concentrations of growth factors produce a stronger stimulating effect on weakened hairs. Other research is also directed at whether intra-operative PRP assists in earlier regrowth of the grafted hairs.
Recently, evidence has suggested that combining PRP with an extracellular matrix product (ACell) that acts as a scaffold to assist the effect of the growth factors has provided better, more consistent results. Further research is continuing in this area.
Current evidence is inconclusive that PRP alone is as effective as other stimulatory products such as minoxidil or bitamaprost, or techniques such as low level laser therapy.