PRP Therapy For Hair Loss
Hair loss and hair fall is a natural, inevitable part of ageing for everybody all over the world. Despite this, the stigma many people experience is immense. Unless you’re a male actor of some note, then you’re going to feel some shame over your hair loss.
Luckily enough, there are plenty of ways to try and slow or reverse your hair loss. The industry around hair loss is large and growing larger every year, and that brings us plenty of innovative ways to address our problems.
Nowadays we not only have hair products to disguise hair fall, but products like Redensyl to encourage hair growth itself. We even have surgical procedures to mask the signs of ageing or illness. There are places around the world that offer hair transplants or PRP therapy to those of us who feel that our hair fall is concerning about to warrant going through with a surgical procedure. Let’s discuss the two in a little more detail.
What Are Hair Transplants?
There are two different methods of hair transplantation: FUSS (follicular unit strip surgery) and FUE (follicular unit extraction). With FUSS, the surgeon removes a six to ten inch strip of scalp from the back of your head and sew the wound closed. This strip of scalp is subdivided into anywhere from five hundred to two thousand tiny sections which are then individually grafted to the areas needing it.
If you undergo a FUE procedure, the surgeon’s team shaves the back of your head, then the surgeon plucks out each follicle unit one by one. From there the transplanting procedure is the same is the ones that happen after FUSS.
The process can take four to eight hours, and you may opt for another one if you keep losing hair or you want thicker hair. You will likely have to take antibiotics and have a few days off work to adjust to the tenderness in your scalp.
The transplanted hair will fall out within two to three weeks, but it grows back soon enough. You will likely see up to sixty percent improvement in hair growth within six to nine months, but it does depend. On top of that, the surgeon will recommend taking minoxidil or a similar product as well.
Our Thoughts on Hair Transplants
Getting hair transplants seems like an extreme method to reduce hair loss. It is an invasive surgical procedure that involves making a large incision in the back of your head and dozens of smaller ones elsewhere on the rest of your head. Even if the risk of infection is slight if you follow your medication schedule and the care routine given to you by the specialist, the fact that you open yourself up for infection at all is something we can’t entirely endorse.
We haven’t even gone into the financial costs yet. Hair transplants can cost from four to fifteen thousand US dollars. Let us repeat: four to fifteen thousand dollars that will not be covered by the vast majority of insurance
What is PRP Therapy?
PRP Therapy, or Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy to give it its full name, is a three-step process that has been around since the 1980s. Since then it has been used to heal tendons, ligaments and muscles with a reasonable degree of success.
In this procedure a person’s blood is drawn and put through a centrifuge. After ten minutes of rapid spinning, your blood will have been separated into three distinct layers:
- platelet-rich plasma
- platelet-poor plasma and
- red blood cells
The plate-let rich plasma is drawn into a syringe and injected into the scalp in areas where hair is thin. This therapy will be repeated three times over a four to six-week period. After that maintenance injections are required every four to six months. Each process should last around an hour each time.
How Does PRP Therapy Work?
The platelets in your blood have several important jobs. Namely, promoting blood clotting and helping the body heal because it contains proteins and growth factors conducive to healing the body. Generally speaking it is believed that the injection of a concentrated dose of platelets will reduce or reverse the damage to the soft tissues.
When it comes to hair loss, the PRP injections are suspected to reduce inflammation in the scalp and likewise reverse any damage done to the hair follicles themselves.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Yes, there are. Anyone who’s had an injection knows that each injection carries with it a risk of scarring. Just look at your arm where you’ve had your vaccination shots. Those scars are likely to be hidden by your hair, but if it’s close to the hairline, they may be visible.
You may also suffer from injuries to blood vessels or nerves, infection or calcification at the injection points. This is when calcium builds up around the injection points and creates a hard deposit that can be noticed on x-rays. They are unlikely to be painful, but they may be irritating for other reasons.
Another potential side effect is unnatural looking hair growth. You may have read a few articles online discussing celebrities who had clearly had hair transplants, plugs or PRP and whether or not they look natural. Hair may grow in at the wrong angle or in a markedly different style to the hair around it.
Who Should Not Have PRP Therapy?
You are more likely to be rejected for PRP therapy for hair loss if you:
- are on blood thinners
- are a heavy smoker
- have a history of drug misuse
- suffer from chronic infections
- have had cancer
- have had chronic liver disease
- have had chronic skin disease
- have haemodynamic instability
- have hypofibrinogenemia
- have a metabolic disorder
- have platelet dysfunction syndromes
- have a systemic disorder
- have sepsis
- have a low platelet count
- have a thyroid disease
How Much Does It Cost?
Well, it depends on the area you live and a few other factors, but in general your initial round of injections could cost anywhere from fifteen hundred to four thousand dollars, and every follow-up injection will be around four hundred US dollars.
Does It Work?
We undertook a brief review of some of the key literature for PRP therapy. In particular, we looked at two trials and then, because there are approximately one hundred and thirty pieces of peer-reviewed literature on PRP therapy for hair loss, a systematic review.
One 2014 study shows that PRP therapy does seem to have some efficacy, we have to comment that the testing cohort was relatively small. A 2015 study using a randomized placebo-controlled trial shows a similar mixed bag of results. On the one hand, those who received PRP therapy saw a “mean increase” of thirty-three hairs in the target area, but on the other hand, twelve months after the last injection was given, four of the participants started showing progressive hair fall again.
Four patients showing recurrent hair loss may not seem like a lot, but the total number of the testing group was twenty. If we assume that half of the testing group was receiving PRP, then that means forty percent of recipients of PRP therapy had to have follow-up treatment.
The literature review (conducted 2019) reveals the same things the two studies we cited do. While the PRP injections do show an increase in hair growth and thickness in target areas, the studies and sample sizes are rather poor. Our own observations on top of the scientists’ is that the studies were specifically targeting androgenic alopecia in males. Therefore, there is no data either way saying whether or not PRP therapy is beneficial to female-pattern hair loss or other forms of hair loss. That said, a recent 2019 study did find that PRP therapy was more effective than minoxidil in the short-term. There are no long-term studies conducted as of yet.
Our Thoughts on PRP Therapy
As with hair transplants, we think that having to do through a procedure under local anesthetic or even a full-on surgery is quite extreme for hair loss. We are not judging anyone who has or wants to go through it because hair loss is an incredibly personal, emotional problem that everyone reacts to.
We, personally, would not choose to have PRP Therapy because it is very expensive and may not work. As the literature indicates, it may work in the short-term, but the studies are poor and we honestly don’t have much faith in them. The range of people who are advised not to undergo PRP therapy for hair loss is also quite extensive, although the general side effects appear fairly mild.
Have we mentioned the expense? Yes? Let’s mention it again. Up to four thousand US dollars for a round of three injections and then another four hundred dollars per injection afterwards until you decide that the expense is finally too much for we. We would rather spend our money on something else, like say, rent, paying bills, addressing student debt, paying your way through university or college, childcare, other medical expenses and a host of other things. But again, you can spend your money as you wish, and if you have the expendable income, then by all means, go and get your hair back.
What Can I Do Instead of Getting PRP Therapy?
Without a doubt, PRP therapy is only outdone by hair transplantation itself when it comes to extreme measure to solve hair loss.