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PRP for Hair Loss: How Does it Work?

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Men receiving hair loss treatment injection in scalp by professional.

If you are struggling with hair loss, platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP therapy) is an all-natural remedy that could help you increase the growth and density of your hair. It is a relatively simple procedure that does not involve surgery and has minimal side effects due to the use of materials from your own body.

What is PRP Therapy?

Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves creating regenerative plasma using platelets derived from the patient’s blood. Platelets are small cells that are vital in the natural cell regeneration process that trigger tissue repair, cell renewal, and collagen production through the release of growth factors and cytokines. Platelet alpha granules, one of the cellular components of platelets, become activated in this process. Upon activation, numerous proteins are released, including:

  • platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)
  • transforming growth factor (TGF)
  • vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
  • insulin-like growth factor (IGF)
  • epidermal growth factor (EGF)
  • interleukin (IL)-1

How Does PRP for Hair Loss Work?

PRP therapy for hair loss works by injecting regenerative plasma made from platelets derived from a patient’s blood into their scalp to promote hair growth and thickness. This process is triggered by the platelets inside the plasma releasing growth factors into the scalp and increasing the blood supply for hair follicles. 

PRP therapy can be used on different areas of the body as well, such as helping to repair ripped tendons and tissue.

What is the Process for Injecting PRP?

1. Blood is Drawn

The process of PRP therapy starts by drawing the patient’s blood so it can be put into a centrifuge, a lab device that separates fluid components. Depending on where you receive treatment, a different amount of blood can be taken.

2. Blood is Put into a Centrifuge

While in the centrifuge, the blood sample will separate into different components, including the platelets needed for PRP therapy.

3. Plasma is Prepared for Injection

A health care professional will take the necessary components from the centrifuge and create the plasma needed for the injection.

4. Plasma is Injected into Scalp

After the plasma has been prepared and loaded onto the state-of-the-art injection device, it is ready to be injected into the patient’s scalp. 

Unlike other facilities, our procedure does not require numbing. And for those uncomfortable with injections, we offer Pronox to make the process a more pleasant one. Additionally, there is little to no wait time needed for the patient after the injection—they can resume their normal life as quickly as they need to. 

Woman laying on bed as professional specialist talks about her options with test tubes in his hands.

Benefits and Risks of Getting a PRP Injection for Hair Loss

Benefits

  • Promote hair follicle regeneration
  • Increase blood supply to the follicle
  • Increase follicular thickness (shaft size)
  • Trigger and extend the hair growth phase
  • Decrease hair loss
  • No potential for allergic reactions due to using material from the patient’s own body

Risks

The risks of PRP therapy are rare, and all arise from the actual process of injection, not the plasma itself. Tissue sensitivity near the injection sites is the main risk factor for PRP therapy.

Is PRP Therapy for Hair Loss Effective?

No current research is conclusive, but from what some scientists garner, PRP therapy for hair loss might be effective and safe enough to perform. Two different studies from 2014 and 2015 show that PRP therapy may be able to increase hair follicle count as well as the thickness and strength of the hair, but the sample sizes used are too small to draw conclusive evidence. 

Another study from 2019 showed that PRP therapy was more effective than Rogaine in a sample size of 20. It suggests that the effectiveness of PRP therapy may rely on the number of blood platelets in a given sample. This means that this procedure may not be a suitable option if you have a low platelet count.

PRP Therapy for Alopecia 

Alopecia is a condition, often hereditary, that causes people to lose hair over time through thinning or patterned baldness.

The use of platelet-rich plasma for the treatment of alopecia has some of the strongest evidence for successful hair restoration. Certain processes help report the results, including hair counts, microscopic examination of the skin, and a scientific method using antibodies to check for specific indicators in a tissue sample (immunohistochemistry).

Located at the bottom of the hair follicle, you find dermal papilla cells. These cells regulate hair follicle growth, and their rates can rapidly increase by binding with the growth factors found in platelet-rich plasma. So, hair follicles can form and be nourished thanks to the interactions between dermal papilla cells and platelet-rich plasma.

This process maintains the active phase of the hair growth cycle (anagen phase), which helps slow progress to the next stage when hair growth ends (catagen phase). Over time, this leads to greater hair density. 

During a hair transplant, only 70–85% of surgically placed grafts with one or two hair follicles (micrografts) will remain due to the natural cell death of hair follicles. One study by Uebel et al. investigated how effective micrografts would be if treated with platelet-rich plasma. This study showed a 15.1% average increase in hair follicle density when using platelet-rich plasma during a hair transplant. 

Another study on patients with alopecia used the scientific procedure of using antibodies to look for specific antigens to measure the levels of the nuclear protein Ki-67. The levels of Ki-67 can indicate rapid cell increase. The study showed a significant increase in both Ki-67 and hair regrowth when using platelet-rich plasma compared to a placebo side.

Alternative Non-Surgical Treatment Options

While PRP therapy is a safe and simple way to promote hair growth and thickness, you may want to consider some other non-surgical treatment options as well. Some of these options can be used in combination with PRP therapy to improve results. 

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)

  • SMP is a non-invasive process that uses microneedles and specialized ink to strengthen the look of hairlines and the density of existing hair.

Hormone Balancing for Hair

  • Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help those who have experienced thinning hair caused by thyroid issues, pregnancy, and menopause. Bioidentical hormones are chemically made hormones that are identical to those the body produces.

Laser Cap for Hair Growth

  • Patients can wear a special cap for about 6 minutes a day, and through a process called photo-biomodulation, low-intensity red light is absorbed by the scalp and stimulates healthy hair growth. 

Fotona SP Dynamis Laser for Hair Growth

  • This is another procedure that uses photo-biomodulation. Gentle, deep heat is used to stimulate the stem cells of dormant hair follicles to encourage hair regrowth.

Booking an Appointment for PRP Therapy

If you are curious about PRP therapy for hair loss, book an appointment with a specialist to learn more.

Written by Dr. Bobby Sreenivasan

Dr. Sreenivasan is a graduate of the University of Alberta Medical Program, where he completed both his undergraduate and post-graduate training. After graduating in 2002, he practiced in Edmonton until 2011, at which point he began practicing in Calgary. His medical interests include preventative care medicine with a focus on bioidentical hormone balancing. He also has a keen interest in cosmetic procedures such as BOTOX, fillers, PRP, skin rejuvenation, and hair restoration surgery.

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