Today I will discuss the use of PRP in patients with genetic hair loss. Many physicians have been offering this to their patients, either alone, or in combination with a hair transplant procedure. In the most recent issue of the ISHRS Forum newsletter there is an interesting article that describes some of the different approaches that physicians are using to implement PRP into their Hair Restoration practices. What I found very interesting was some of the points of general agreement among Hair Transplant surgeons.
1) Ideal candidates for PRP are patients with thinning but not complete balding areas
2) Patient satisfaction after PRP injections may be between 70%-90% though no randomized clinical studies have been done and approximately 20% will be disappointed with their results.
3) Peak improvement after PRP would be seen at 2-6 months after injection and treatment must be continued to achieve long lasting results.
My opinion on these numbers is that I don’t feel given the very high price tag of the treatment that there are high enough satisfaction numbers to warrant this treatment. Additionally the absence of hard data from randomized clinic trials leads me to believe that satisfaction numbers may even be lower and exact effects cannot be scientifically documented. Finally, we also don’t know about any possible long term negative side effects from the injections of PRP which may exist.
Until we have the hard scientific evidence I believe PRP injections into the scalp should not be considered not as a primary therapy for patients with genetic hair loss. It is important that we continue to research this treatment in a scientific manner and proceed cautiously before recommending this to our patients.
I have recently begun to experiment using PRP, which is platelet rich plasma, in certain hair transplant procedures. PRP has been used in wound healing for a number of years. Recently some have begun to use it in conjunction with Hair Transplant procedures. The PRP is obtained from the patient prior to the procedure via a blood draw. The blood is then spun down to separate the red blood cells from the PRP. The PRP contains growth factors that aid in healing. We have been experimenting injecting the PRP into the donor region, bathing the grafts to be transplanted in the PRP, and then spraying the PRP onto the scalp for better post operative healing. So far the initial results have been promising. I still cannot definitively state that I see a superior result using the PRP compared with procedures performed without it, but I will continue to investigate and look forward to having more information moving forward. I also plan to offer it to my patients who are interested, though letting them know that we are still in the experimental phase. I look forward to discussing this further in the future.