PRP is “Platelet Rich Plasma”, a portion of whole blood that is separated from the blood through centrifuging. It should contain concentrations of platelets that are at least 4 times that of what is found in ordinary blood to get the maximal benefits. Its use in medical conditions started in the 1990’s mainly by Orthopedic Surgeons and Oral Surgeons but has recently been expanded to the Cosmetic Surgery arena.
(Not all PRP is the same! Most PRP systems don’t get the concentration of the platelets above the 4x level needed to get the full benefits from PRP. The system that has proven to have consistent 4-7x concentration is the Magellan “TruPRP” system. It costs the most but the results will be superior to all other PRP systems available on the market. In a recent lecture Dr. Weiner attending in Paris at IMCAS, 13 different PRP machines were evaluated. Some systems didn’t even result in platelets which were higher concentrations than whole blood!)
When an injury occurs, platelets are the “first responders”. Platelets have been found to contain the following growth factors and cytokines:
- platelet-derived growth factor
- transforming growth factor beta
- fibroblast growth factor
- insulin-like growth factor 1
- insulin-like growth factor 2
- vascular endothelial growth factor
- epidermal growth factor
- Interleukin 8
- keratinocyte growth factor
- connective tissue growth factor
The end result of the combination of these growth factors is increasing the vascularity to the injured area, decreasing the inflamation, laying down new collagen, healing the injured tissue and generation of new tissue.
Studies have shown the benefits of these growth factors in multiple different areas of medicine:
- Improved healing in orthopedic injuries
- Faster and better integration of bone grafts
- Improvements in healing of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers
- Improved outcomes with hair transplants
About 3 years ago, Dr. Charles Runels, devised a new PRP procedure which he called, “The Vampire Facelift”, for facial rejuvenation. The procedure involves injecting dermal fillers, Juvederm, and combining it with injections PRP into the face. The theory is that the PRP will release all the above mentioned growth factors and cytokines and turn on “the healing process” in the aging face. The benefits of the “Vampire Facelift” are:
- Collagen stimulation
- Neovascularization (new blood supply to the skin)
- Collagen remodeling (for scars)
- Dermal thickening
- Stimulation of fat growth leading to volumization of areas where fat has been lost
PRP has been used in conjunction with hair transplants for at least the last 5-7 years. Studies have shown that there is improved “take” of the grafts, faster growth of the transplanted follicles, as well as more plentiful hair growth. The PRP is bathed over the follicles prior to their transplanting as well as injected into the recipient and donor site areas. In the past few years, PRP with ACell (a membrane from pig bladder) has been injected into areas of hair loss WITHOUT TRANSPLANTS and results have been very promising. In a study published in the peer reviewed journal “Prime”, hair growth was seen in ALL patients, and ranged from 12-63% improvement. Women seem to have greater improvements than men for this treatment. It is recommended that men get 2 treatments, about 2-4 months apart, but women only need one. Once a year touch ups are needed.
The use of PRP is entering a new frontier in the area of cosmetic enhancements. Its benefits continue to be discovered in different applications and areas. It has no side effects because you are using one’s own tissue to heal and enhance your own body. It also is in nearly limitless supply. It seems only a matter of time when PRP will be mainstream for anti-aging treatments.
Dr. Weiner is a Facial Plastic Surgeon who laid down his scalpel in 2005 and concentrates solely on noninvasive and minimally invasive Cosmetic Procedures. He is Johns Hopkins trained and Board Certified.