Platelet-rich plasma injections have steadily risen in popularity as a non-invasive treatment for many medical and cosmetic procedures. By getting a blood sample from your body and processing it until only a pure platelet concentrate remains, PRP providers can inject this serum back into your body to improve your wound healing, speed up cell growth, and release growth factors to help repair and rejuvenate your system. It’s already seen favorable results in sports medicine and has recently been pushed as an effective treatment for hair loss.
But are the results from PRP therapy to treat hair loss guaranteed? While the evidence that studies have seen points to PRP treatments having some beneficial effects on hair loss, this isn’t guaranteed for any patient who undergoes the treatment. Many factors can affect the overall results of PRP treatment, and patients should always be ready to look for substitutes if their PRP treatments don’t give them the results that they want.
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PRP treatments work by releasing growth factors into the injected area. With a higher concentration of platelets, your body’s cell growth and cell repair responses kick in without the need for an injury, which rejuvenates skin and tissue. For hair growth, PRP therapy can increase blood supply and improve blood flow to the hair follicle, which improves hair density and slows down natural hair loss.
Even though it’s a fairly simple process, there are some complications that your body can run into when going through PRP treatment. Some of these include:
Because they’re processed from your own blood, PRP injections are highly biocompatible to your body. This means that your system is less likely to reject the treatment and can start processing it immediately and efficiently. This allows it to avoid many of the adverse effects of other hair growth products and treatments.
However, this doesn’t mean that your body is always going to be compatible with PRP treatments. This is especially true if you’re taking specific medications like blood thinners or NSAIDs for some pre-existing conditions. These compounds affect the stability of platelets in your blood, which means any PRP injections will have drastically reduced effects.
Alcohol, nicotine, and chronic stress are some of the biggest culprits behind hair fall, but they can also affect the effectiveness of PRP injections because the body’s chemical composition is altered by these substances. In most cases, people who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco may need for their bodies to take time to flush out the substances they took in so PRP treatment can work properly.
On the other hand, lifestyle factors like chronic stress can affect the results of PRP treatments since they also change the chemical compositions in your body. Lifestyle factors like this can be fairly easy to manage, though the improvements will take some time before you can see any visible results.
Certain conditions like telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia can also play a role in how effective your PRP results will be since they can often cause drastic and consistent hair fall. Telogen effluvium in particular can cause temporary hair loss depending on how severe its triggers are, though fortunately recovery can be shortened to a few weeks rather than months with consistent PRP treatment.
Androgenetic alopecia may be more difficult to treat since it’s a genetic condition, but PRP treatments can help slow down hair loss especially if the treatment is started early and even increase hair regrowth. However, keep in mind that the older you are, PRP treatments alone may not be enough to give you the results that you want. If this is the case, you may need to look for an alternative or pair it with other treatments.
One drawback of PRP therapy is that it’s considered an exploratory treatment for cosmetic concerns – which means standards can vary widely on what can constitute a “good” PRP treatment. Providers will use the same methodologies and same equipment, but small minute differences in the non-standardized procedure of getting PRP injections ready can cause some variation in the final efficacy of your treatment.
Adding to the mix is the possibility that your treatments may not always be of quality, and you have considerable room for how effective your particular PRP treatment might be. Platelet-poor plasma, impurities in the PRP serum, or some other issue with your blood sample can affect the outcome of your procedure. Fortunately, you can avoid most if not all of these complications by partnering with a skilled PRP provider.
PRP injections are not a one-time treatment: it often requires the body several injections before the platelets finally finish repairing and regrowing cells and tissue. As a result, most of the visible improvements from PRP treatments won’t be apparent until a few weeks to a few months after your first initial injections.
So patients who may think that their PRP treatments aren’t paying off can sometimes just wait until their treatment plan is over and the platelets have enough time to work on your system. Treatment plans for PRP injections can last for a while, so make sure to show up consistently and on schedule to get the best possible results.
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Given all of these caveats, what’s a person to do when their PRP treatments don’t pan out with the results that they want? There are a few hair regrowth products and treatments that they can try, like:
Products such as Rogaine have enjoyed considerable success in helping deal with many types of hair loss, and it’s a relatively easy product to access and administer yourself. Topical minoxidil is often the first-line treatment that many dermatologists, cosmetic professionals, and other experts recommend when dealing with hair loss, and it’s a product that PRP therapy patients can also use.
However, one important thing to keep in mind is that minoxidil is an extremely powerful product – and since it can drastically change the hormonal balance in your body, it’s important to get yourself checked by a professional before trying it on yourself. While there are different formulas for this product available, it’s best to follow the advice of a trained medical/cosmetic expert rather than guessing which one works for you best.
Fortunately, the effects of minoxidil are long-term and often show up earlier than other hair regrowth products, though the exact time between application and results can vary widely depending on the patient. Consistency is also a key part of getting the most out of these treatments: the more often they’re applied, the better the potential results may be.
Many conditions can cause hair loss, some of which can require more aggressive treatments to manage. Autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata are often one of the most common culprits behind hair thinning and permanent hair loss and are often treated with medications to help normalize the body’s functions.
This works to treat the underlying condition, but doctors may also try putting corticosteroid drops or injections straight into the scalp to counteract the hair thinning and hair loss caused by alopecia areata. Steroids can help suppress the inflammation in your scalp and other areas with hair, which makes it less likely for your hair follicles to get damaged and grow into brittle hair shafts.
Corticosteroids should only be considered as a hair loss treatment with the advice of a medical professional, as their effects are far too potent to casually use without medical supervision. Even with expert oversight, steroid use can still result in side effects like pain and skin infections in the treated sites – though fortunately, these side effects don’t last too long with proper aftercare.
Hair transplantation is one of the most effective ways to get immediate and long-lasting results for hair loss. By moving hair around your head, a surgeon can implant either a patch of skin or hair follicle grafts to bald areas of your head, which then grow into natural-looking hair.
While effective, this process can be extremely traumatic to the skin and will require several sessions depending on the results that you want. This strain is fine for younger patients whose bodies heal quickly, but it can be complicated for those who can’t stand the stress from this surgical procedure. In these cases, other alternatives like the ones above are the best option.
But for patients that go through with hair transplantation, PRP injections may just be the thing that can help make their treatment a success. Since PRP injections also boost the wound healing of the body, applications of PRP on the grafted spots can help these areas heal faster.
Platelet-rich plasma injections have shown some promising results as an effective treatment for hair loss, but the lack of large-scale studies and standards with PRP preparation means it’s still considered an exploratory treatment. While it’s usually safe to administer to anyone because the chances of any adverse reactions are minimal, it’s important to set your expectations accordingly and have alternatives in mind if PRP injections don’t give you the results that you’re looking for.
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