There is an increasing amount of evidence to support the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat hair loss. Platelets are important because they secrete a variety of growth factors. At a molecular level, these factors can upregulate hair growth signaling and improve hair quality and caliber. They may also be able to increase the amount of time the hairs are in the actively growing (anagen) phase.
How does PRP work?
We draw your blood here in our office and use a centrifuge to spin it down and separate out the platelet-rich component. While it is spinning, Dr. Perro will inject local anesthesia (lidocaine) along the frontal hairline. Vibration and ice are used to keep you comfortable while slowly and carefully injecting the PRP into areas of hair thinning. The whole procedure takes about 30-45 minutes. You may experience some slight tingling in the treated area for 20-30 minutes afterwards, which usually resolved by one hour. Otherwise, you are free to return to your usual activities after the PRP session. We only ask that you don’t wash your hair until the following day.
What are the advantages of PRP over other medical therapies?
PRP is a completely autologous treatment, meaning it makes use of tissue from your own body. There are no medications that could have side effects or require lab monitoring. It is also relatively non-invasive because it does not require surgery or any incisions.
How often do I need to do PRP?
Dr. Perro currently recommends 3 treatments over a 6 month period of time. This is because it takes 6-12 months to see a difference in hair growth with any medical therapy. However, some doctors recommend treatments every month, while others recommend a single session. There is not yet widespread agreement on the optimal dosing frequency but ongoing studies are working to provide more guidelines. If improvement is appreciated after the series of 3 treatments, Dr. Perro will recommend once yearly “maintenance” sessions of PRP to perpetuate the beneficial effect.
Is this FDA approved as a medical therapy?
No. This is still a relatively new treatment option for hair loss. The equipment we are using has FDA clearance as a device, but no specific PRP device or protocol has been specifically approved for hair loss.
Who should be getting PRP?
PRP is a great treatment option for people who have already maximized other medical treatment options for hair loss or who do not want to take medication in an open-ended fashion. It can also be used as an adjunct to hair transplantation, starting around the same time of surgery and repeating during the first 6 months after surgery. Many patients like doing this as a way to help maximize their results from surgery and possibly reduce post-operative shedding.
How do I know if it will work for me?
Pilot studies show that PRP generally produces a clinical improvement for 40-60% of patients with male or female pattern hair loss. The response is less well understood for alopecia areata or cicatricial (scarring) alopecias. At this time, there is no way to predict which patients will experience the greatest amount of improvement.
Can I get pregnant while using PRP?
Yes. Although PRP has not been specifically investigated in pregnancy or breastfeeding, there is no reason to believe that it would harm a fetus or disrupt breastfeeding. That being said, out of an abundance of caution, we do NOT recommend PRP treatments if you KNOW you are pregnant.
What about my other medications for hair loss? Can I stop them?
Because PRP has a different mechanism of action than other medical therapies, we do not recommend that you stop them. Please plan to overlap with your other treatments for at least 3-6 months or as advised by Dr. Perro.
Is PRP covered by insurance?
No. Until PRP receives FDA approval as a medical therapy for hair loss, this treatment remains a cosmetic procedure. You will be responsible for the cost of the PRP upon receiving your first treatment. A cost advantage may be obtained by booking several sessions at once.
**If you are being treated for active skin cancer on the scalp, please tell Dr. Perro. While it has not been proven, there is a theoretical risk that PRP injections may worsen or promote existing skin cancers or pre-cancers.