Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has given hope to those experiencing androgenic alopecia because of its capacity to aid in hair regrowth. However, with this hope comes the fear of experiencing the possible side effects of this treatment, such as the experience of discomfort after the treatment.
So how long does it take for the soreness to go away after PRP treatment for hair loss? It takes at least 3 to 6 months for the soreness to go away altogether after PRP treatment for hair loss. To reduce the soreness, ways such as using local anesthesia may be employed, in addition to proper pre-procedure and post-procedure care.
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The pain felt after platelet-rich plasma therapy isn’t really due to PRP, but due to the micro-injuries that may be inflicted by the injections. Normal activities may thus be immediately resumed after the treatment, although scalp pain may still be felt for 3 to 4 weeks. In total, it will take at least 3 to 6 months for the soreness to go away after PRP treatment for hair loss.
The scalp is packed with many sensory nerve receptors which are responsible for the pain felt after platelet-rich plasma injections. Numbing these sensory nerve receptors are thus important to reduce the pain and discomfort, which may be done through the following:
Local anesthesia may be administered in PRP injections to lower the pain felt by the patient, as in other procedures where they’re used. However, the only local anesthetic recommended for use in PRP injections is epinephrine since it has been demonstrated by clinical studies that lidocaine and ropivacaine can alter the effectiveness of PRP by their effect on platelet functionality.
An IRB-approved, randomized controlled split-scalp study has demonstrated the effectiveness of using a vibration anesthesia device (VAD) in reducing pain during PRP injections. In the study, 90% of patients preferred vibration over no vibration, while 55% favored vibration over the use of an ice pack. It’s safe to say that a VAD or a vibration anesthesia device would help alleviate pain or discomfort from the procedures, especially when it comes to PRP treatments.
Platelet-rich plasma contains factors such as stem cells and growth factors. These bioactive factors, when exposed to light for 10 minutes, can cause the release of beta-endorphins that help in making the PRP injections less painful.
Using very fine needles such as 29G and 30G helps in further reducing pain and discomfort due to PRP treatment as these will be less likely to leave tenderness and marks on the scalp after treatment. It’s best to talk to your provider about your pain threshold especially when you’re dealing with skin puncturing.
Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol (Tylenol) may be given to patients who experience pain after the procedure. Tramadol (Ultram) and other narcotics may also be taken as prescription medication. Other pain relievers such as aspirin and other blood thinners, however, must not be given to these patients because of the possibility of them affecting the efficacy of PRP through their effects on the stability of blood platelets.
Ice pack compressions were also shown to be effective in reducing pain during PRP injections in a similar study as to where VAD was demonstrated to be effective for pain during PRP injections. 90% of patients also favored ice pack compressions over no ice pack, although only 36% favor ice over vibration.
Before the procedure, make sure to ask the patient to discontinue blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications, and other medications that can impair the immune response such as steroids as these may affect the effectiveness of the PRP injection.
This discontinuation of medications must also be discussed with the patient’s primary care provider since abrupt stopping may cause side effects from the disorder that they’re using the medications for. A healthy diet plan and proper hydration must also be observed prior to the procedure and continued after the treatment.
After the procedure, ask the patient to avoid undergoing activities that will expose them to extreme temperatures such as hot baths or saunas. Likewise, ice shouldn’t be applied 72 hours after the procedure. Taking a bath must also be avoided 24 hours after the procedure, along with drinking alcohol and smoking.
Should the patient opt to use a microneedling device in addition to PRP treatment, proper pre- and aftercare must again be followed, this time also with regard to the treatment protocols and potential side effects of the microneedling procedure. The use of blood thinners must still be avoided as this impairs healing. No hair products such as topical minoxidil should be applied prior to the procedure.
A history of hypertrophic scarring and keloids must also be elicited from the patient, as someone with such history is prone to scar tissue forming. Likewise, patients with a history of cold sores are at risk of getting their sores reactivated after their microneedling procedure.
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Platelet-rich plasma therapy is taken from the patient’s own blood, thus avoiding the risk of contracting communicable diseases or getting unwanted allergic reactions when the blood cells are donated. It’s also a non-invasive treatment, thus reducing the risk of major side effects associated with surgical procedures.
Although the patients can immediately go back to their daily activities after the treatment, PRP treatment still isn’t without side effects, however. The risk of side effects aren’t from the PRP but from the site of injection and include the following:
Pain is a symptom of an inflammatory reaction from the trauma in the skin caused by the injection. Increased inflammation also is a sign that PRP is working as it’s the mechanism in which PRP brings in its healing properties. Pain should subside 3 days after the injection so ask your patient to seek consultation if it lasts more than the said time frame.
Although extremely rare, the risk of infection of PRP treatment injections is still present, with a frequency of 1 in 10,000 injections. Symptoms of infection include fever and chills and inflammatory reactions such as redness and heat in the area.
A blood clot may also form in response to the trauma by the injection, which may have damaged the lining of the blood vessels, similar to when a cut or any other injury occurs. This injury is resolved similar to other injuries associated with a damaged blood vessel. Bruising may also occur as a result of trauma although patients must be advised to seek consultation when they don’t bruise easily or the bruising is darker than usual.
Similarly, nerve injuries and tissue damage may also occur when the injection needle accidentally hits a nerve or tissue, especially brought by lack of skill on the provider’s end. A careful treatment plan and asking the patients to only have the procedure with professional healthcare providers may reduce the risk of this injury from occurring.
Although not a side effect, patients should also be advised that not every PRP treatment is successful and symptoms may still persist after treatment. Should this occur, they should consult back with their doctor to discuss other treatment options available.
PEP Factor is another non-invasive way to help stimulate hair growth through its bioactive factors, fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and copper peptide. These factors are known to affect normal cell development and can help flush out toxins from the body.
This product is a good alternative or complement to PRP, with only reported mild side effects such as minor skin irritation. Like PRP, it may also be used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures such as microneedling therapies.
Platelet-rich plasma injections are helpful treatments for hair loss although it takes a while before its symptoms, such as soreness, go away on their own, typically around 3 to 6 months after the treatment.
At FACE Med Store, we offer an alternative to PRP which can comparably help with your patient’s hair loss problems such as that brought by androgenic alopecia, male pattern baldness, and female pattern hair loss with minimal side effects. Contact us today at (800) 770-9083 or shop on our site for your medical and aesthetic needs.
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