Platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment isn’t a magical hair loss cure, and it takes from eight months to a year to assess whether it’s working to grow hair. Nevertheless, PRP may be a viable treatment alternative to daily oral or topical medications for patients with compliance issues. It works in half or more of cases, and it’s a potential adjunctive treatment, which might enhance hair transplant surgery and other tried-and-true approaches to hair loss, according to Marc R. Avram, M.D., a Manhattan-based dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City.
“In dermatology, PRP is the new treatment option for men and women with hair loss,” says Dr. Avram, who presented on the topic of PRP and hair loss at the August 2017 Masters of Aesthetics symposium in San Diego.
First demonstrated in studies to enhance healing of some orthopedic sports injuries, PRP has been gaining ground in other specialties, including dermatology for hair loss and skin rejuvenation.
“During the last two years, worldwide, there has been a lot of published data that PRP can help maintain or stimulate hair growth in patients,” Dr. Avram says. “We don’t know the mechanism of action, but we also don’t know how minoxidil works. We just know it works.”
Dr. Avram’s experience, approach
In the two years that Dr. Avram has been performing PRP to treat hair loss, he says the approach helps 50% to 65% of patients.
“It’s not a cure for hair loss or a paradigm shift, but it’s an important new treatment option for people with hair loss,” he says.
The treatment is relatively simple and safe, but it’s important to manage patient expectations, he says.
PRP hair loss treatment includes drawing from 20 cc to 30 cc of blood from each patient; centrifuging the blood for 10 minutes to separate the platelet rich plasma; and discarding the red blood cells. Dr. Avram then injects the PRP in the scalp — into the hair follicles where hair is thinning.
He does that once a month, for three months. Then, waits for eight to 12 months to determine, based on the hair growth cycle, if the treatment is working. If PRP treatment is working, Dr. Avram says he recommends patients get maintenance PRP treatment every eight to 12 months. If it doesn’t help, he stops treatment or recommends something else.
Adding PRP treatment to the practice setting isn’t too costly, according to Dr. Avram. To get started, physicians need a centrifuge, as well as a kit for each PRP treatment, to help separate the PRP. Different companies make the kits, and those generally cost from $100 to $400 each, he says.