Will PRP hair treatment cause side effects?

Tags:woman age 55-64 balding hair loss side effects

I am very intrigued about PRP hair treatment and potentially very excited about it as well. I think I would be a good candidate. Are there any documented side effects caused by PRP hair treatments and if so, how severe are they? I look forward to receiving your response.

belliza

F, 58, Vermont

PRP therapy is an exciting recent development for the treatment of hereditary conditions such as androgenic alopecia and female pattern hair loss. Based on the use of PRP therapy in other medical fields such as bone grafts and wound healing, dermatologists have used PRP to improve the survival, growth, and density of hair naturally. Platelets contain growth factors and stem cells which are crucial to healing and tissue regeneration. So far, the results are promising, with many patients noting an improvement in their hair thickness after an initial course of three to four treatments.

However, while the treatment represents a promising new therapy, it does come with some limitations and very mild side effects. The degree of improvement a patient can expect is limited, and depends on the concentration of platelets in the plasma. Hair restoration PRP benefits from 4-7x platelet concentration. Lower concentrations of platelets injected into the scalp will not provide optimal results, and concentrations higher than 7x can actually be detrimental to hair growth. Ideally, one treatment is required every six months to maintain results as after a year the effects of PRP are lost.

With this in mind, some doctors and dermatologists recommend that patients continue with Rogaine or Propecia as the main treatment for non-surgical hair restoration, or combine PRP with hair grafts. For patients who have had little success with Rogaine or Propecia or cannot tolerate the side effects, PRP represents an excellent alternative because there are so few adverse effects associated with it. At present, the only known side effects are possible pain from multiple injections during the procedure, mild bleeding at the injection site or a temporary post-procedural headache. However, these can all be easily managed and usually subside on their own after an hour or two.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a relatively new, minimally invasive method of treating thinning hair and alopecia. It is an exciting hair loss treatment because it utilizes platelets from the patient's own body to stimulate hair growth. Peer-reviewed medical literature attests to the efficacy of PRP in medicine, with emerging studies tentatively confirming the success of PRP in promoting hair density by prolonging the growth phase of the hair cycle, and reducing the length of the shedding cycle. PRP may also help stimulate the development of new hair follicles through the presence of stem cells.

However, there are still no large-scale longitudinal clinical studies that confirm the long-term efficacy of treatment and, at present, regular maintenance treatments are required to sustain results. Established treatments for hair loss, such as Minoxidil and Finasteride have a long track record of successfully reversing hair miniaturization in some patients, and are also FDA-approved.

With respect to side effects, PRP is very safe. Treatments that utilize the body's own tissue or plasma means there will be no allergic reaction, which can significantly minimize the risk of the occurrence of adverse side effects.

However, mild complications can still occur because the procedure requires injections. Some patients experience very slight bleeding at the injection site after treatment. Others experience some tightness in their scalp or a headache sensation afterward, however, this usually is resolved within a few hours. In rare cases, granulomas may form if the injection is incorrectly administered. Injury to blood vessels or nerves can also occur, but that is highly unlikely if you are in the care of a competent doctor or surgeon.

PRP therapy has certainly been depicted as a very promising treatment for stimulating hair growth. Patients who have undergone PRP treatments have noted that their hair is fuller and healthier following a series of three to four sessions. What is perhaps most exciting about PRP hair treatment is that for suitable candidates, the treatment can significantly increase the thickness of the hair without the need for hair transplant surgery.

PRP has been used for other purposes since the 80s, such as activating wound healing or enhancing the skin. The therapy is simple and based on the premise that high concentrations of platelets in plasma cells could promote hair growth by prolonging the growing phase of the hair cycle. Plasma contains white blood cells and platelets, which are rich in growth factors and can stimulate the activity of the hair follicles. Clinical studies have found PRP effective for androgenic alopecia.

The treatment uses the patient's own plasma and injects it into the scalp in a procedure that takes approximately an hour. The blood is taken from a vein in the arm and is then spun through a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. Because the process uses the body’s own plasma, the possibility of an adverse reaction to the treatment is extremely unlikely. However, while there are no known major side effects from PRP therapy, there are still minor risks and complications associated with the treatment.

 

Therapies that use injections such as PRP do carry a small risk of injury to blood vessels or nerves or, in extremely rare cases, infection. However, experienced doctors and surgeons have a sophisticated awareness of how to deliver injections in a way that minimizes this risk. Other possible minor side effects include granulomas occuring at the injection site. These occur if the plasma is inadvertently injected into the fat, rather than into the muscle, which can cause the death of fat cells. Some clients have also reported a sensation of tightness in their scalp, or minor headaches after the injections. Some mild pain can also occur as the injections are delivered, along with redness or pinprick bleeding at the injection sites.

While many people are excellent candidates for PRP hair treatment, there is a range of conditions that may preclude certain individuals. If you currently drink or smoke, you will need to cease both habits for at least four weeks before you can undergo PRP. This is because smoking can lower the platelet count in the blood and alcohol can inhibit the body's ability to create stem cells. Other contraindications include:

  • Cancer
  • Infection in the treatment area
  • Systemic disorders (affecting the entire body)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Chronic infections
  • Platelet dysfunction syndromes
  • Liver disease
  • Recent corticosteroid injections

During your initial consultation with your hair restoration expert, he or she will discuss your health history in detail to determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for PRP. Your doctor will also discuss the number of sessions you are likely to need to achieve the best results.

There are few known side effects, but the effectiveness is also not as proven as we might hope.  Be sure to discuss with your doctor.

There are no known significant  side effects arising from PRP to the scalp so far. But you need to discuss this with your physician. This is exciting treatment.