Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a proven effective treatment for addressing different types of hair loss. It’s considerably a safe hair restoration procedure with zero risk of adverse effects since it’s an autologous treatment that uses a patient’s own blood sample. However, one possible drawback of PRP is that it can cause more shedding after the injections.
So why is there increased shedding after receiving PRP treatment for hair loss? Hair shedding isn’t an uncommon side effect of PRP injections. It can happen because the growth factors in the blood platelets stimulate the hair follicles to enter the growth stage which pushes out old hairs from the existing hair shafts. As more new hair grows, the more old strands will fall out as the hair cycle switches to the active anagen phase.
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Before you can experience normal hair regrowth, it’s normal to notice some amount of shedding for the first weeks after your PRP treatment. In fact, it is a common side effect with almost any hair loss solution like topical minoxidil and oral finasteride.
Hair shedding happens with any hair restoration treatment that stimulates the dormant follicles on the scalp. It’s also common in patients with androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss whose hair thinning is caused by the shrinkage of follicles or shortened hair cycle.
As a hair loss therapy, PRP contains high concentrations of platelets that release numerous growth factors that can aid in the regeneration and healing process of damaged follicles. The role of platelet plasma injections is to improve blood supply and stimulate cellular proliferation to activate the hair growth cycle. It also increases the stem cells to rejuvenate the follicles and encourage the production of healthier hair.
Every hair follicle undergoes a consistent on-and-off cycle and the rate at which new hair grows from the roots varies per individual. Several factors like age, genetic predisposition, and current health conditions can affect one’s hair growth cycle.
To better understand why hair shedding occurs after PRP, it’s important to have a clearer picture of how the injections affect the hair growth cycle. There are three important phases in hair production:
This is the active stage when new anagen hairs continuously develop from the follicles. The role of PRP in this phase is that it forms new blood vessels around hair follicles to improve the supply of nutrients, oxygen, and blood flow.
During this phase, the application of platelet concentration also encourages the division of dermal papilla cells which are necessary for hair follicle regeneration. As the inactive follicles are awakened and enter this growth stage, old hairs are pushed from the existing shaft which causes shedding.
Also called the regression phase, this is the period when the cell division stops and the follicles begin to detach from their blood supply in the scalp. Without nutrients, the hair follicle size shrinks which starts the natural hair shedding that can last for several weeks.
Platelet rich plasma injections also have an anti-apoptotic effect which can prevent or delay the start of the catagen phase. Once you’ve started getting PRP hair treatment, they can sustain the follicles and prolong the active hair growth phase.
This is the phase when the follicles begin to rest. The hair shafts also enter a dormancy period so there’s no new hair growth activity. Before injecting PRP for androgenetic alopecia, the majority of the hair follicles are in this stage.
After receiving the platelet injections, the follicles are ushered from the telogen to anagen phase and that’s when hair shedding occurs. It’s a completely normal cycle as the miniaturized or vellus hairs are removed to make room for longer and thicker hair strands on the scalp.
In some cases, the emotional stress of having hair loss or undergoing a hair restoration procedure can prolong the symptoms of alopecia and worsen shedding. This can cause plenty of follicles to enter the telogen phase at the same time without stimulating new hair growth. This can be avoided by ensuring that you’re in good health and determining the exact cause of hair loss before receiving PRP.
Some of the common side effects of platelet rich plasma injections such as scalp pain, swelling, headache, and irritation can be experienced within the first few days after the treatment. For hair shedding, patients can notice this within 6 weeks after the PRP injections. The amount of shedding can be twice the normal amount since the follicles are working harder to push old hair from the shaft.
This phenomenon can last for 8 to 10 weeks from the initial treatment. Experts say that shedding is usually a good sign that the PRP injections are working but you are advised to have a follow-up visit with your provider to check the status of your scalp and hair.
They can perform a TrichoScan analysis to measure new hair growth parameters and compare it with baseline values before you start the treatment. This can be done to observe the improvements in hair mass and relieve you of your worries from the increased hair shedding.
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Patients with hair loss can notice initial improvements in terminal hair density and an increase in hair thickness within two weeks after the PRP treatment. However, it can take up to six months to see measurable differences in hair count and increase in hair follicular units.
It can also require more than one session of PRP injections for optimal hair restoration results. Depending on the severity of your hair loss symptoms, you may need at least 3 treatments scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart. After your initial treatment plan, you may have yearly maintenance sessions to sustain your scalp and follicle health and prevent further hair loss.
Autologous platelet rich plasma injections provide a lasting solution for progressive hair loss but it’s not necessarily a permanent fix. You have to understand that the hair follicles will continuously undergo a normal cycle and there are different factors that can affect the hair growth process.
You can maintain your hair health and PRP results by keeping a healthy lifestyle and managing stress to avoid inducing hair loss. Regular check-ups with your provider are also essential to track your hair growth and determine when you need follow-up injections of platelet-rich plasma. With consistent platelet-rich plasma treatment, you won’t have to worry about hair thinning for a long time.
There are many reasons why more and more individuals are considering PRP hair treatments. Some of its known advantages over other hair restoration procedures are:
Compared to traditional hair transplantation surgery, PRP injections eliminate the need for incisions and minimize the risks of scarring after the procedure. The treatment session normally begins with a quick and painless blood draw. The blood sample will then be placed in a centrifuge to isolate the optimal concentration of platelets and plasma from the red and white blood cells.
Once the PRP is prepared, the provider can inject the solution into the targeted areas with hair loss. It can be done in conjunction with microneedling to stimulate collagen production along with the deeper delivery of growth factors to encourage hair regrowth.
The provider can add some activators to the platelet concentrations just before the injection. Platelet activation is essential to ensure the efficacy of injection and bring out the maximum potential of the proteins and growth factors.
Some of the main platelet plasma growth factors that support cell growth, wound healing, and hair restoration are the endothelial growth factor, fibroblast growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor.
PRP is a minimally invasive treatment so there’s no recovery time required after the injections. Most patients can return to their normal activities after getting the treatment. Aside from hair shedding, there are no major side effects although some individuals report experiencing pain, minor scalp tenderness, bleeding, and headaches after the procedure.
If you’re hesitant about undergoing PRP because of the bloodwork requirements, PEP Factor products are a great hair growth alternative that you can explore. Like PRP, PEP Factor solutions are enriched with proteins, copper peptides, and fibroblast growth factors that can support hair growth.
The good thing is that they can be applied topically so you don’t have to worry about any blood draw or interactions with needles. Some doctors can recommend PEP Factor as a supplementary treatment to enhance the results of your initial hair restoration procedure. With guidance from your provider, regular use of PEP Factor may maintain good scalp and follicle health and improve the symptoms of hair loss.
Hair shedding is a normal occurrence after a PRP procedure and can be a good indicator that the injections are working. However, it’s still important to monitor your progress and regularly check with your doctor to see if your hair loss is caused by another medical condition.
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Note: Most of the keywords were names of authors and clinical terms from published studies. I think they’re too technical and might affect the overall quality and tone of the article.