One of the more exciting uses of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections is its extended use for alopecia treatments in patients. Though it is generally used in combination with other treatments for hair, it has also been shown to work as well as a stand-alone treatment option. The evidence based science behind these results shows the various growth factors and concentration of stem cells within PRP.
Within each dormant hair shaft there are stem cells responsible for the hair’s growth cycle, and these areas do not contain pigment or melanin. Rather, they are responsible for the production of hair follicle cells within the hair matrix. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). when introduced to the scalp, will trigger a number of biological activities through the release of glycoproteins, specifically activating KGF/FGF7 – Keratinocyte growth factor. KGF/FGF7 is a paracrine mediator of epithelial cell growth, including hair. CD34+Cells and other cytokines (Alpha SDF-1α) attract additional stem cells to the damaged follicle and regeneration site. There are other growth factors released within the PRP that help with differentiation, proliferation, and inducing other intracellular events. It is believed that these various biological activities and events will activate a dormant hair follicle and allow for new hair growth.
So why doesn’t PRP work for all patients suffering from thinning hair or patterned baldness? There are medical conditions and reasons for thinning and balding hair that can cause the stem cells in some hair follicles to be permanently damaged. Differing delivery methods concerning PRP and the concentration of PRP can influence outcomes as well. Typically platelet rich plasma (PRP) for alopecia treatments is injected using small needles or micro needling devices that are used to force the solution to the proper depth for tissue interaction. Since PRP can only be absorbed through the pores of the skin and hair shafts it is an inexact method of delivery. The second issue with PRP deals with the variability of platelet concentrations within PRP. Single spin methods in preparing PRP are inferior to the dual spin units in preserving CD34+Cells and in the concentration of platelets needed for differentiation, regeneration, angiogenesis, and new cell proliferation to begin. The FDA Approved dual spin method for harvesting blood platelets yields over 6 times more than other methods of harvesting platelets. Other factors affecting successful outcomes are the handling of the PRP and proper diagnosis of the patient’s type of hair loss.
The practical side of using PRP in alopecia treatments is that there are a number of hair follicles that are dormant despite their condition. Platelet Rich Plasma has been shown to initiate hair growth for these dormant cells due to the biological nature of the treatment and interaction of stem cells within the hair follicle. Therefore, PRP is beneficial whether used alone or in combination with hair transplantation, medications, red LED light therapy, or another alopecia treatment.