Platelet-rich-plasma treatments are a relatively new development in medicine. PRP therapy has so far been used for tissue regeneration in ailments like torn tendons or chronic inflammation. In the last two years or so, medical researchers have begun clinical trials on the use of PRP therapy for hair loss. Hair loss can affect both men and women, whether it’s pattern baldness or hair loss resulting from a condition like alopecia. Early results of these trials make using PRP therapy for hair loss reversal seem promising. Might regenerative medicine like PRP therapy be a cure-all for hair loss?
How Does PRP Therapy for Hair Loss Work?
PRP therapy uses a plasma concentrate made from a patient’s own blood, injected at the target site, to spur the body to restore that affected area. This treatment has proven effective in patients with osteoarthritis and as a therapy for fibromyalgia. But how exactly does it work for hair loss? Well, the plasma concentrate made from the patient’s blood is injected into the site of thinning or lost hair. Plasma naturally contains growth factors; that’s what heals wounds. The plasma concentrate contains an abundance of growth factors; these growth factors infiltrate the site of the hair loss and spur regrowth. PRP therapy for hair loss doesn’t just stop hair loss, but reverses it long-term.
What Types of Hair Loss can PRP Therapy Reverse?
Hair loss affects about 80 million adults in America. Being past middle age or chronic stress make someone more likely to experience hair loss to some extent. As well, autoimmune conditions like alopecia can cause anywhere from spotty to total hair loss. A small study done in 2019 compared Rogaine to PRP therapy in hair loss efficacy. Results showed that patients treated with PRP therapy experienced significantly more hair regrowth than the Rogaine group. Another study done on PRP therapy for pattern baldness showed that a rapid succession of PRP treatments (3 treatments over 3 weeks) was significantly more effective than spaced out treatments (2 treatments over 3 months), suggesting that the amount and consistency of growth factors is directly responsible for the hair regrowth. However, like most things, moderation is best. Other studies suggest that once you surpass a certain concentration of growth factors, you can actually create an adverse result.
PRP therapy has also shown positive results in studies on alopecia areata. This type of alopecia is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss, sometimes over the entire body. It can be lifelong, or can be triggered by a period of extremely high stress. Several small studies conducted over the last few years have shown PRP therapy to be a great alternative treatment for this type of alopecia, including the steroid-resistant types. Patients experienced earlier regrowth than chemical treatments provided. In one study, subjects also reported a significant decrease in skin symptom like burning and itching. In another study, only 1 out of 20 patients relapsed and failed to show hair regrowth as a result of platelet-rich-plasma treatment.
Implications of PRP Therapy Going Forward
The great thing about regenerative medicine is patients receive effective treatment naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Overall, stem cell therapy and PRP therapy have extremely low risk of adverse reactions and minimal side effects. Provided more clinical trials continue to reap positive results, PRP therapy might prove to be an effective alternative hair loss treatment, especially for people who don’t respond well to steroids or topical treatments. And at the end of the day, shouldn’t the goal of medicine be to restore healthy body functions instead of just treating the symptoms? Keep an eye on the research for PRP therapy – holistic medicine isn’t just herbs and poultices anymore.