Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

Written on: Dec 19, 2018
By: Shari Hicks-Graham

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are an exciting new treatment option in dermatology. I have treated eight patients using a series of three monthly treatments in the last year and I believe the results are certainly worth sharing. Fortunately, most of these patients have had significant improvements in hair regrowth. These injections are used to treat certain forms of hair loss on the scalp and, cosmetically, to improve the signs of aging skin. PRP has been discussed by many dermatologists at national meetings over the last 5-7 years and has been reported as a promising therapy in mainstream media. As I began seeing more and more patients who had progressed through all of the routine steps for the treatment of alopecia (primarily female pattern hair loss, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, telogen effluvium and traction alopecia), it became clear that patients wanted and needed more options.

PRP has been used for several years in other medical specialties such as orthopedic surgery to assist with wound healing and joint pain and is now available as an off-label treatment for dermatologic purposes. Here’s a bit on the science. It is hypothesized that the platelet components are rich in proteins (growth factors) that may act on stem cells in the hair follicle promoting new blood vessel and nerve growth, resulting in hair growth. Additional research is necessary to determine the best treatment strategy for PRP as the sustainability of the growth response may vary, requiring additional treatments. So far, evidence indicates that it is an effective and safe treatment for people with hair loss. If you’re curious about this procedure, here’s what you need to know.

First, a thorough history and physical examination are performed to make sure that the treatment is appropriate. From this point, the specific type of hair loss is diagnosed and laboratory studies like blood work or a scalp biopsy may be required. After that, therapeutic options are reviewed. If the hair loss has been persistent despite all other appropriate therapies for the particular type of alopecia, and if there are no other contraindications like infections, significant inflammation of the scalp, anemia, platelet disorder, or other complicating underlying medical disorders, PRP may be a good option. A plan may be set in motion for 3-6 treatments over 12-18 months based upon the response to the therapy.

On the day of treatment, blood is drawn from the patient into a sterile vacuum sealed container.  This specimen is taken immediately to the lab and spun down using a centrifuge to separate the platelet rich portion of the plasma from the rest of the blood. If you are a little needle-phobic, fear not - there are a few tricks that can be used to make the procedure less intimidating and as pain-free as possible. While the plasma is being prepared, I provide anesthesia to the patient’s scalp to ensure that the procedure is as comfortable as possible. After about 20 minutes, the PRP is ready to be resuspended and injected into the patient’s scalp directly near the roots of the hair using a syringe. Once the procedure is complete, shampooing and normal hair care practices can be resumed but we ask patients to be gentle with their hair for the first 48 hours.



As with any medical treatment, results may vary. Other therapies may be used along with PRP to improve outcomes, including topical minoxidil. However, generally, one may see hair growth six months after the first treatment, and scientific support for this practice boasts 30-40% increases in hair density. This is particularly true for female and male pattern alopecia, telogen effluvium, alopecia areata and some cases of traction alopecia and early central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. It has been very exciting to see the reaction of patients to a successful treatment plan, especially when other treatments have proven to be less much effective, are more slowly to act, or simply do not produce the desired result at all.

If you have been dealing with hair loss, I recommend that you see a board-certified dermatologist who can assist in the diagnosis of your condition. Perhaps PRP could be a favorable option for you. If not, there will likely be other therapeutic options to optimize the health of your hair so that you can feel confident in your own skin. This happy, confident look will always be your best feature.

Live free and clear,