How Effective is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for Hair Restoration?
You may have heard of stem cell treatments to heal injuries and treat degenerative diseases. But did you know that stem cell technology has advanced so much that it can now be used to treat hair loss and male pattern baldness? Many of my patients are surprised when they hear this fact, but when learning more about stem cell treatments for hair loss, they quickly become fascinated with the possibilities. If you’re currently experiencing hair loss and are interested in alternative treatment options that don’t include hair transplantation, there are several things about stem cell hair loss treatments you should know.
How the Hair Grows
The biology of hair is quite fascinating. The hair you see on your head, face or arms is the actual hair strand. However, the growth begins deeper in the skin, inside the hair follicle. The follicle is the “hair factory” inside the skin (so to speak) and produces hair strands one cell at a time.
Hair follicles tend to operate on growth and rest cycles. For individuals with normal hair growth function, the growth phase lasts 2-6 years, causing the hair stem to grow long and thick. Once the growth phase has ended, the hair stem falls out and the follicle enters a resting stage of a few months, until it starts growing hair again.
This hair growth cycle is quite surprising to many of my patients. However, we don’t realize that this is how hair grows because all hair follicles are on different schedules. Hence, when we look in the mirror, we don’t realize that some follicles are not growing hair, because the vast majority does have hair strands.
Why We Lose Hair
There are many reasons why an individual may begin losing hair over their lifetime. These often include hereditary factors, changes in sex hormone levels, cancer treatments, thyroid disorders, infections, steroids, and a variety of other causes. However, though the underlying cause may be different for many patients, the actual mechanism of hair loss is most patients is actually very similar.
Visible hair loss occurs when the health of the hair follicle deteriorates due to lack of nutrient absorption and a variety of other factors. The hair follicle begins to shrink, producing hair that is much thinner. As this is happening, many hair follicles also begin to experience shorter growth stages, causing less hair to be grown at any given moment.
Traditional Treatment Options
Finding an effective hair loss treatment has been the dilemma of individuals for millenia. Unfortunately, little progress has been made in the last 20th Century toward solving this problem, with only a handful of specialty shampoos becoming available, and more drastic options; like hair transplantation surgery.
In recent years, however, I’ve joined other pioneering alternative medicine doctors in exploring a very promising hair loss treatment approach by using stem cells.
Stem Cells for Hair Loss
There is a lot of misinformation out there about stem cells, and the general public doesn’t realize the full potential of this technology. However, let me be clear, the stem cells I utilize to treat my patients’ hair loss are not embryonic stem cells, but are rather derived from the patients’ own blood. This ensures that the patient doesn’t have to face any ethical/religious dilemmas, and further, because it is the patient’s own biological material, it does not create a rejection response by the body. It’s a win-win on all sides.
How Stem Cells are Derived
To create the stem cell treatment, I first draw blood from the patient, and then put it through a centrifuge separation process. After several steps and a few hours of work, we are left with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).
Platelet Rich Plasma is quite amazing when it comes to medical applications, and has been used to treat everything from arthritis to collagen loss, in addition to hair restoration. The major components of PRP are stem cells, growth factors, and platelets. What makes these components so fascinating is that they can stimulate different biological functions depending on what part of the body they are applied to.
For example, delivered into facial skin, the growth factors and stem cells are able to “understand” their environment, and begin to stimulate collagen production. Further, by reading its environment, PRP can stimulate production of hyaluronic acid – a natural chemical in our bodies that attracts moisture. And when delivered inside the scalp, these same growth factors and stem cells can assess their environment and begin to heal and a activate hair follicles to grow longer, thicker hair.
How is the PRP Applied to the Scalp?
To apply the PRP to the scalp, we use a specialty hand-held device that creates many tiny channels into the scalp. There are 12 needles at the tip, and the device automatically gyrates them in and out to make tiny puncture holes in the skin, so that the PRP can be absorbed deeper into the skin. The beauty of this device is that it is so fast that it can make 1,300 micro channels in just one second!
After the micro channels have been created on the treatment area, we apply a layer of PRP directly onto the scalp. The PRP becomes absorbed into the skin through these tiny holes, and delivers the vital growth factors to the hair follicles.
How Effective is PRP for Hair Loss
PRP hair loss treatments can have drastic effects, depending on the patient’s unique biology. Most patients see results after just a few months, when the hair follicles have had the opportunity to experience boosted growth due to the PRP. Most patients will need about 3 sessions initially (one per month) to see optimal results, with the treatment being performed several times per year thereafter.
If you’re trying to avoid hair transplantation surgery and would like to learn more about the PRP hair treatment, please give me a call at 714-930-1351!