PRP therapy is a promising treatment for stimulating hair growth. However, there isn’t a standard protocol for how it’s done and how well it really works.
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is a treatment that uses the proteins in your blood platelets to help thicken thinning hair. Sound too good to be true? Well, the jury’s still out.
Here’s everything you need to know about PRP therapy for hair growth, including a rundown of the risks and possible side effects.
PRP therapy is a process in which your blood platelets are drawn out, concentrated, and injected into a damaged part of your body. The basic idea is that this process stimulates faster healing. In other words, if plasma-rich platelets are your body’s first responders, PRP therapy is the helicopter that gets a battalion of them to the scene quickly.
PRP therapy has been used for decades to treat certain sports injuries. In recent years, it’s gained traction as a solution for hair loss. Researchers figured that PRP could potentially work the same way with hair as it does helping heal damaged muscles, ligaments, and tendons. But does it really work? Well… maybe.
Some medical professionals report that PRP can stimulate hair regrowth by increasing blood flow to your follicles. The platelet-rich plasma injections are said to increase both the thickness of the hair itself and the flow of blood to any damaged follicles. But, there’s not a ton of consistent scientific data to back up these claims.
One very small study showed promising results, but a 2019 systematic review raised a red flag. The studies analyzed in the review found that PRP treatments can slow hair loss and thicken hair, especially when treating a condition called androgenic alopecia. However, most of these studies used very small sample sizes and had possible publication biases. Additionally, different treatment regimens were used in each study.
Another study pointed out that PRP therapy can help hair grow if you go to multiple treatment sessions. But the study also noted that there doesn’t seem to be a standard set of procedures for performing PRP therapy. That means that each healthcare provider is potentially doing slightly different steps during PRP treatments, so who’s to say if it really works the same way every time?
PRP treatment is a non-surgical outpatient procedure that involves just a few steps. You’ll be in and out of your doctor’s office in probably an hour or so. Though the specifics may vary, here’s what to expect.
Step 1: Needle time
A medical professional draws some of your blood and puts it into a centrifuge, which is like the spinning teacups ride that makes most people puke.
Step 2: Spinning for sweet, sweet PRP
You chill out while the twirling centrifuge separates the blood into its basic parts:
- platelet-poor plasma
- platelet-rich plasma
- red blood cells
The PRP gets slurped up into a syringe without the other blood cells getting in the way.
Step 3: The injection site
And, now… the payoff. That PRP gets injected into the thinning patches of your scalp where you need some help getting the garden growing again.
Different medical facilities use slightly different techniques for PRP therapy. For instance, some providers might suggest getting PRP injections more often than others.
FYI: Some providers use a local anesthetic on your scalp while others might use a micro needle to inject the PRP. So results will vary between providers until a standardized treatment protocol for PRP hair treatment is established.
Since you’re being injected with your own platelets, there’s not much of a chance that you’ll have an allergic or negative reaction to the PRP therapy. But a needle is still a needle, so there’s a slight chance you might feel one of the following:
- scalp tenderness
- mild pain at the injection site
- minor temporary bleeding
As with any medical procedure, you’ll have to report any medications you’re on or any pre-existing conditions you might have before you’re approved for PRP treatment.
Your PRP provider might turn you away from the procedure if you:
- have a substance use disorder
- currently are taking blood thinners
- smoke cigarettes
You could also be turned away if you’ve been diagnosed with any number of conditions, including:
- low platelet count
- platelet dysfunction syndromes
- thyroid disease
- acute or chronic infections
- chronic liver disease
- chronic skin disease
- hemodynamic instability
- metabolic disorder
- systemic disorder
The cost of PRP treatment varies depending on where you live. Sessions we found range from roughly $500 to $3,500 per visit. Since PRP can be a slow process that involves multiple visits, the therapy can become pricey.
PRP treatment for hair loss offers a promising way to regrow your hair. The scientific community is optimistic about the effectiveness of PRP therapy, but the rigorous studies to support the results just aren’t there yet.
Based on the decades-old practice of using your own blood’s natural ability to heal your body, PRP therapy involves having your own platelets injected into balding patches on your scalp. The platelets get to work on damaged follicles, stimulating growth and thickening the platelets themselves.
The process can be slow and expensive over time, but the procedure itself has virtually no side effects and is considered very safe. If you undergo PRP, you can probably do it on your lunch break and be back at your desk working away as the platelets work on getting your locks back in the thick of it.