Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy or PRP is an emerging technique and technology in sports and functional medicines. Despite this being the case, it has been used in oral and dental surgery to assist in soft tissue recovery after plastic surgery.
Who used it?
PRP therapy gained a lot of recognition in the sports platform when Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward of Pittsburg Steelers received it prior to winning the Super Bowl 18. Examples of other high profile sports people who received the treatment are Tiger Woods, who got it four times after knee surgery, Bartolo Colon and Takashi Saito who are both pitchers in major League baseball.
How it is administered
Platelet Rich Plasma therapy takes about 20 minutes for it to be complete. It begins with the collection of blood from the patient, preferably about 30 milliliters. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge as it will be able to separate other components of the blood from the palate rich plasma. The plasma rich or concentrated platelets are then injected to the site of injury by the doctor handling the said procedure. It is usual for the medical practitioner to use ultra sound guidance as it will ensure the accuracy of the procedure.
Platelets normally work like a reservoir for natural growth factors. They are therefore important in the repair of any injured tissues. An increase of collagen production is done when the platelets are placed in the injured area. The platelets secrete stimulate tissues recovery. T is done when the collagen product is increased which in turn causes protein expression, tenocyte-related gene and enhancement of tendon stem cell proliferation. These growth factors additionally cause cartilage to become more resilient and firm while stimulating blood flow. PROP therefore acts by activating tenocytes which then proliferate quickly and cause the production of collagen to repair injured muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
Does PRP have immediate results?
Studies have shown that people who have undergone this therapy have felt a notable increase in pain levels in the days that immediately follow the injection. Pain intensity in the following days will continue to increase. This is a result of the increase in general functional ability and functional mobility as well as increase in strength and endurance. As a patient undergoing the therapy, you should be able to notice gradual improvement from half a month to one and a half a month after the therapy. Research has shown there are patients who reported ongoing improvement even after 6 to 9 months since PRP therapy was done.
There are some studies where MRI and Ultrasound images have shown that definitive tissue repair occurred after the therapy was administered. This basically supports the proof that PRP therapy is actually capable of creating a healing effect in the damaged areas of a person’s body. When injured tissues are treated before the damage gets worse, the healing process is sped up. In fact, in some cases surgery of the injured area may be avoided.
Injuries (joint injuries) usually treated with PRP
PRP is a therapy that is not usually used to treat any type of injury. In fact, the following are some of the injuries that have been treated successfully using the therapy: tennis elbow, Achilles tendon injuries, hamstring, quadriceps and rotator cuff. This basically means that any injury apart from complete tears can be treated effectively using PRP therapy. The therapy has proven to be essential in reducing the down time of an injured athlete. It also reduces the chance of the athlete getting injured again in the same area. The chance of a more serious injury is that it would have been caused by surgery or by permanent disability.
Is PRP a surgery alternative? How comes it works?
It is not essentially an alternative to surgery. The fact that many chronic conditions will respond to PRP therapy, making the need for surgical intervention a minor one, it is quite challenging to predict the one that will fail and the one that will succeed. Excessive scare tissues within the ligament / tendon is what characterizes an incompletely, chronic healed condition. This will then lead to impaired joint function which may at times cause the ligament or tendon susceptible to complete disruption or re-injury. This inferior, and in some cases, healing, aborted process is because of poor blood flow to the area that has been affected.
The majority of tendons has a poor blood supply and often become the site of chronic scaring and microscopic tears. Naturally the body finds it quite difficult to heal such structures. PRP is believed to have the power to initiate a response that will make a chronic condition appear to be similar to a new injury. Making such an appearance will [provoke a renewed / new response from the body which will initiate the healing process. The renewed / new healing process is then augmented by the healing factors (which are super concentrated and effective) contained within PRP.
Injuries that can be successfully treated using PRP
It is unfortunate that there is lack of prospective and randomized double blind clinical trial available documenting the efficacy of the therapy. Since this is the case, insurance companies (most if not all) will not support (read: ‘cover’ or pay for). All the same, a standard treatment is not yet available. This means rehabilitation protocol after a series, spacing between the injections given in series and number of injections needed. All the same, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy is used commonly on the most highly paid athletes and in the highest levels of sport internationally. Before one thinks of using the therapy, there are some questions that they will need answered. These questions can provide a better understanding of the therapy.
What are the athletes that have been treated over the last year?
The therapy has been used on differed kinds of athletes. For example, the majority of athletes who use it are football players, basketball players and runners. Other types of athletes are soccer players, lacrosse players and even cheerleaders.
How do the concentrated platelets help in healing?
In theory, the majority of athletes have a kind of tendonitis such as tennis elbow, patellar tendonitis in the knee or Achilles tendonitis. Many of these kinds of injuries have been known to become chronic. They have therefore involved formation of scar tissues and microscopic tearing of the tendon. One of the reasons why it is almost impossible for such areas to heal is the lack of proper blood supply in the area. Achilles is the best example to use. In general, it is a tendon that has a poor blood supply. This means that when there is the presence of chronic scarring or microscopic tears, the body will have a difficult time healing the same. Studies have shown that the body may fail to get enough of these growth factors or healing factors to the affected area on its own. When the concentrated platelets are injected to the injured area, they will bring the growth factors and nutrients needed for the healing process to be effective.
PRP and Facial Fillers
Facial fillers, that are part of dermal filers, can be described as fillers that are responsible for decreasing the creases around the mouth and nose. Normally such creases are reduced using different methods with the most popular being surgical. However, there has been a lot of talk of the effects of PRP in minimizing creases on the face. Reducing such creases causes a person to appear younger than they actually are. The therapy has been found to be one of the most natural treatments for rejuvenation in the face as well as the body. Recently, Plasma Rich Platelets Therapy has been found to have benefits in aesthetic medicine.
Cosmetic fillers have been for a long time been the method of facial rejuvenation by improving scars while lessening the appearances of fine lines and wrinkles. Despite there being a number of great cosmetic fillers in the market, PRP provides a truly and 100% organic alternative with quicker results. The risk of any skin sensitivity or allergic reaction is alleviated when Plasma Rich Platelets Therapy is used simply because the patient’s blood is used in the therapy.
The procedure also helps enhance and restore the facial areas that require volume. This therapy can be used for any of the following:
- Marionette lines improvement (these are the lines that are present from the corners of the mouth to the chin)
- Improvement of the lipstick lines (better known as vertical lip lines)
- Treatment of acne scars
- Reduction of smile lines
- Nasolabial folds diminishment
- Improvement of the appearance of periorbital lines which are also referred to as crow’s feet
- Diminishing of forehead lines
- The glabellar lines, which are sometimes referred to as the number 11 sign that is between the brow
PRP has growth factors that essential stimulate the body to restore and repair tissues using your body’s own natural processes. The technique can be used to effectively to rejuvenate the skin by isolation of some elements from the blood which can be injected below acne scars, folds and even wrinkles. The reason why PRP is better than any cosmetic filler is its ability to offer faster skin rejuvenation that last longer than other methods, lack of an allergic reaction and help your skin heal faster.
PRP and Hair
For naturel a looking results, PRP can be used for hair restoration. Basically the process involves the use of a thin needle (with your own PRP) being injected into your scalp. The growth factors in the platelets will start working and soon hair growth will be naturally stimulated. The good thing about this therapy is that it works well for both men and women. It is a totally natural, non-surgical, state of the art, alternative medical procedure used for reversing the effects of hair thinning and hair loss. It uses the patient’s own blood and is an injectable treatment that takes a short while. Our PRP or blood plasma has active growth factors that have been shown to promote hair growth. The end result is a healthier, fuller looking head of hair that helps restore one’s confidence and look.
Take note that the cost of this treatment is considerable since there may be needed for more sessions to get the desired results. In some cases it is combined with the use of hair transplant procedures. At this time, there is lack of clinical trials that show proof the procedure actually works. However, the results are quite promising.
Advantages of PRP on hair
- Extremely natural and above all beautiful looking end results
- Very short recovery period
- Reliable and safe results
- Multiple injections: procedures can last between 60 to 90 minutes
- Non-surgical and simple procedure
FAQs on PRP and hair loss
Does it hurt? – In the past, there reports of patients finding the therapy to be painful at times and uncomfortable when done using topical anesthetic if you prefer, you can have it done using general anesthetic or intravenous sleep sedation. You will notice the injections as you will be fully asleep.
What are the risks? – Since the enriched plasma used in the therapy is derived from the blood of the patient, there are no allergic reaction risks. An amount of white blood cells (concentrated) is used to make up part of the PRP. This being the case, infections is quite rare.
How long does the treatment take? – The procedure normally takes an hour to an hour and a half. The duration is determined by the area that is undergoing treatment.
Does one need to repeat the treatment? – Treatment does not have to be repeated. However, some factors such as the patient’s treatment plan and individual needs may require repetition to the point the desired results are achieved. Most cases have shown regular PRP treatment every quarter or half a year can be very beneficial.