Potential PRP Hair Treatment Side Effects – Should You Be Scared?
Thanks to ever advancing technology in the world of hair loss, there are more non-surgical options than ever to help prevent a thinning scalp, and one of those new ways is PRP Therapy, also known as Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy.
This exciting new non-surgical procedure has shown great results in helping prevent and reduce hair loss.
You may be hesitant to get PRP for hair loss treatment since it’s a relatively new application. However, PRP has been used since the 1980’s for different types of treatments, outside of hair loss.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy has been used to help treat things like torn tendons, muscle injuries, arthritis pain and joint injuries. And in the world of dermatology, the uses range from hair loss to facial rejuvenation.
So what exactly is PRP treatment when it comes to hair loss? Does it work? And what are the possible side effects from this treatment?
Let’s take a look.
What is PRP Hair Treatment?
PRP was first developed in the 1970’s and has since been used for years for various medical applications such as muscle and joint pain, as well as more recently, hair loss.
The PRP therapy begins with having your own blood drawn. For the therapy to work properly, the blood must be your own, and therefore cannot be from a donor.
The whole blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells and white blood cells from the plasma, which is the portion of your own blood that contains the platelets. Platelets are the part of the blood that stops bleeding by clumping or sticking together to form a clot.
The plasma is then further reduced to remove the “platelet-poor plamsa” in order to create plasma that is concentrated with platelets. Doctors may numb the injection site (if necessary), and then inject the serum into the area of your body that is being treated.
For example, if you’re being treated for a muscle injury, your plasma would be injected directly into the affected muscle area, using multiple injections. If you’re being treated for hair loss, the doctor would make multiple injections directly into your scalp where it is thinning.
Due to the way the PRP therapy works, and unlike how most traditional injectable medications work, the plasma must be injected into the site where the treatment is being performed.
Doctors have been using this technique for years to stimulate wound healing and improve the appearance of skin. You may have heard the term “vampire facial” more recently. Vampire facials are referring to PRP therapy used on the face to help rejuvenate your skin. It’s called “vampire facial” because, as we mentioned above, PRP therapy uses your own blood as a way to help treat affected areas of your body.
For many years it was only known that PRP therapy was able to help with muscle injuries, joint pain, and other injuries of that nature, but researchers have recently discovered that PRP can also help stimulate hair growth.
Evidence from various studies has supported the idea that PRP is a promising new form of hair growth treatment. So how does it work?
How Does PRP Therapy Work for Hair Loss?
The growth factors that are released from the activated platelets can theoretically stimulate cells in your hair follicle, which is great for inactive or miniaturized hair follicles. By stimulating the hair follicles, the hair can begin to grow stronger in those places where you have previously noticed thinning.
But does it actually work?
In a randomized controlled trial, three PRP treatments were given to patients who suffer with pattern hair loss. This study observed an increase in the number of hairs in the target area and an increase in hair density. No side effects were reported during treatment.
So based on this study, there are signs that point to PRP therapy being very helpful for those people suffering from hair loss. And while it may not be as great of a solution as a hair transplant, the therapy is non-invasive and may be more appealing to those that do not want to go through the hair transplant process or those who are not hair transplant candidates.
Potential PRP Side Effects
Since PRP uses your own blood, you should not have a reaction to it. You’re essentially just isolating a part of your blood, which is already flowing through your body, and injecting it directly into the areas requiring therapy. There are no medications, or external elements added to the blood/plasma before it is re-injected into your body, therefore you shouldn’t see any side effects from PRP therapy other than some stinging upon injection and mild tenderness for about 24 hours simply from the injections.
Studies have noted that PRP has been found to have a positive effect on male and female pattern hair loss without major adverse side effects. You may experience minimal pain, pinpoint bleeding, and redness when the injections are being delivered, but these are side effects of the delivery method and not the therapy itself.
Dr. Krejci notes that patients often comment on a “full” or “tight” feeling in their scalp immediately after injections. Mild tenderness, as mentioned above, that can last up to about 1 day. Rarely, she also finds some patients will complain of a mild headache the next day.
Since PRP injections use your own blood, adverse side effects are rare and there is no risk of developing a growth of tumor or cancer, according to the information resource website for PRP in Australia.
Who Shouldn’t Get PRP Treatment for Hair Loss
Though major side effects have not been found in qualified patients, not everyone is suitable for PRP therapy. If you have a history of heavy drug or alcohol use, or a history of smoking, you should not receive PRP hair treatment. You also may not qualify for PRP treatment if you have been diagnosed with any of the following:
- Chronic skin disease
- Metabolic disorder
- Systemic disorder
- Hemodynamic instability
- Chronic liver disease
- Platelet dysfunction syndromes
- Acute and chronic infections
As you can see, Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy is a great, non-surgical, way to help promote hair growth in places that may be thinning or balding. And while it’s not a replacement for hair transplant surgery, it can help those that may not be quite ready to go the surgical route.
It can also be very beneficial when used in conjunction with a hair transplant, to ensure that the hair follicles stay stimulated and continue to support the donor areas of the scalp from which the hair was excised for the transplant procedure.
If you’re not ready for surgery yet or can’t undergo a hair transplant, PRP may be a great hair growth solution for you. If you’d like to learn more about PRP and whether it would be a good option for you, feel free to contact us today!