Patient, heal thyself: Early results from use of a component of blood drawn from and re-injected into the person with hair loss show the treatment works.


The use of a patient’s own blood for surgery is finding acceptance in medicine – research out of the University of Southern California shows that 700 people who underwent a procedure on their hearts fared better when they were given infusions of their own blood – drawn from the patient at the start of surgery instead of using donor blood. The indicators of success were shorter hospital stays and an overall reduced need for blood transfusions.


Something similar happens with the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the treatment of hair loss. The patient’s own blood is used, not simply as a support treatment to something else, but as the hair loss treatment itself. And while results are not fully documented with peer-reviewed research, PRP is regarded as a safe and, for many, effective means for reversing the most common form of hair loss. Clinics providing hair loss solutions are now offering PRP hair loss therapy for women and men.


How it’s done: Platelet-rich plasma is extracted from a person’s blood via use of a centrifuge, separating it from red and white blood cells and other plasma. From there it’s injected into the scalp, where it stimulates hair growth.


Sounds easy, right? Perhaps too easy?


Well, to be clear it’s a treatment that needs to be repeated three or four times, with those treatments spaced by about two weeks. And it might require follow-up treatment six months later. It can be more effective if used in combination with minoxidil. And for the most part it is most effective when applied to androgenic alopecia, most often referred to as “male pattern baldness” (there are many other forms of hair loss: women can get androgenic alopecia as well).


How PRP is applied to the scalp


In a three-step process – blood is drawn, separation by centrifuge, and then injection of the PRP into the scalp – the patient can expect to spend about an hour in a single treatment session. The third step includes use of a topical anesthesia and fine syringes for the injections.


The function of the platelets is they carry growth factors that stimulate inactive hair follicles to return to the growth phase.


It should be noted that PRP has already been in use to effectively treat other types of bodily injuries. This includes restoration of joints, ligaments, muscle, and tendons affected by injurie, where the growth factor of the plasma restores function in those components.


Measuring the results of PRP


The procedure is new enough that absolute guarantees of hair regrowth success are not made. But in the patients who’ve had the procedure done, new growth has been reported by several measurement techniques. Those include a clinical evaluation using a hair-pull test, macroscopic photography, and patients’ self-reporting.


Importantly, the procedure should be done by a board-certified dermatologist or other medical doctor.