Hair Loss Therapy with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a highly effecting, non-surgical treatment for alopecia (hair loss) and hair thinning. The most effective approach is to combine PRP in a comprehensive, multi-modal program with peptide therapy and select clinically proven nutraceuticals. It has been used successfully to treat alopecia areata, androgenic alopecia (hereditary hair loss in men and women) and more recently some of the refractory scarring alopecias (lichen panoplanaris and central centrifugal alopecia). Scroll down to read about hair loss basics.
What is PRP?
Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, as it relates to hair loss, refers to the use of a patient’s own platelet cells from their blood to stimulate hair growth. Platelets are rich in various growth factors and cytokines that have the potential to rejuvenate hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.
What are peptides and why combine PRP with peptides?
Recent evidence suggests the best and longest lasting results are derived from PRP plus specific peptides. Peptides are the naturally occurring chemical messengers in your body that can modify physiological processes. These peptides act in several important ways to restore hair, that include: rejuvenating the follicle and scalp, increasing the time your hair follicle remains in the active growing phase, blocking negative hormonal effects that damage the hair follicle and activating follicle stem cells. Peptides also augment the effects of PRP on the scalp and hair follicles.
- Thymosin beta-4 has wound healing and regenerative properties that augment PRP that facilitates hair regrowth
- GHK-Cu strengthens existing hair by increasing blood flow around the follicle and blocks the effects of DHT on the follicle.
- Zinc Thymulin increases the time the follicle is in the anagen (Active growth) phase
- PTD-DBM reduces inhibitory effects on the WNT/beta catenin pathway; essentially taking the foot off the brake on hair growth
- Valproic acid reduces DHT suppression on the hair follicle stem cells by activating Wnt/ beta catenin pathway; essentially stepping on the gas
How is the procedure done? Does it hurt?
A small sample of blood is obtained from the patient. This sample is processed in an FDA-approved kit and special centrifuge to separate the platelets and plasma from other components like red blood cells. Platelets may then be photoactivated, releasing powerful molecules which have profound biologic rejuvenating effects on hair follicles and skin as well as anti-inflammatory molecules that reduce pain. A second activator, calcium chloride, is then added to the PRP prior to injection. We use a special painless technique to administer local anesthesia so that this powerful cocktail of growth factors, cytokines and other proteins is painlessly injected into the area of scalp where weak hair follicles exist. Microneedling of the skin is performed immediately following the injection to activate the platelets’ actions. The procedure takes about one hour to perform and patients may resume all activities, including workouts, shampooing, etc. immediately afterwards as there is no recovery phase. On occasion, there is mild soreness and redness that generally resolves in less than a day. Improved hair growth can be measured in a matter of weeks.
Is all PRP the same?
No, unfortunately not all PRP is created equal. This can be confusing to patients and physicians alike. Numerous studies have shown that the results and duration of the PRP hair regrowth treatments are directly related to the quality of the PRP produced and the use of peptides. PRP quality is determined by its purity and platelet concentration. At Alternity Healthcare we use either the Eppendorf or Emcyte system, both of which produce PRP with an optimal 6-10x concentration with monocytes but minimal red blood cells. You need to start with the right amount of blood in order to produce high quality PRP. One or two regular tubes of blood is not enough to get the concentration that has been clinically shown to provide healing and hair growth.
When are the peptides added?
Starting the day after your PRP injection, you will use the various peptides daily for at least 3 months for best results. One of them is a subcutaneous injection and the others are applied via topical sprays. How are results tracked? Typically hair grows at a rate of ¼” or 1 cm per month so it can take 3 or more months to measure the improvements and 6 months to visually notice improvement in the mirror or in pictures.
Does PRP need to be repeated?
Yes, the hair follicle stimulating effects of PRP are NOT permanent. But with the addition of peptides, you can expect very long lasting results. Most patients treated with PRP plus peptides can enjoy their results for several years depending on the individual preferences and response to therapy, the underlying condition, and use of adjunctive therapies (nutraceuticals and low level laser) while implementing any necessary lifestyle changes. Most important is to quit smoking.
Hair Loss Basics
For tens of millions of men and women, thinning hair and hair loss is a major concern. Many first notice that their scalp is shining through, they find more hair on the pillow or in the drain, or notice that their hairline is receding somewhat. Often they feel like the hair loss was sudden because they saw themselves in a photo, where the back or top of their head is more visible than when they look in the mirror, revealing the results of a progressive hair loss they didn’t realize was occurring.
Each hair’s root is in a follicle where it receives nourishment from your blood supply. Hair grows in a three-stage cycle that repeats over time. Anagen is the active growing phase, Catagen is intermediary and Telogen is the resting phase. At any given time, the majority of the hairs on your head are in the active growing Anagen phase, which lasts two to seven years. Catagen typically lasts two to three weeks and Telogen, the resting phase, lasts three or four months. It is during Telogen that a new hair pushes out the old one from the follicle. The hairs you see in your comb or brush are from the Telogen phase.
An average healthy adult will have approximately 150,000 hair follicles by their late teens. The average person loses 100 Telogen hairs/day and grows 100 Anagen hairs. As we get older, the normal growth stage slows with fewer hairs in the Anagen phase and a higher percentage in Telogen, which results in thinning or baldness. Due to a variety of factors, follicles may produce thinner, less pigmented hair as we age.
Contrary to popular belief, the baldness trait can be passed on from either parent’s side of the family. Due to advances in understanding our genetic make-up, we now know there are about 200 genes involved in the regulation of hair characteristics. There is a genetic test available, HairDx, that can provide your genetic risk for hereditary baldness, with a 70-80% accuracy.
Male Pattern Hair loss
Male pattern baldness is the most common cause of baldness in men. It begins with thinning hair in the temples and crown of the head. Over time, the temples recede and the crown bald area widens until the top and front of the scalp are bald with hair only remaining on the sides and back. Male Pattern Hair Loss is “Chronic” and “Progressive:” It is well documented that men who are prone to male pattern hair loss will continue to lose more hair if the condition is not treated.
It has been determined that Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a breakdown product of testosterone, is largely responsible for male pattern baldness. It causes miniaturization of the hair follicles which grow shorter, thinner, less pigmented hair until the follicle finally dies. Certain peptides can block or reduce that effect. There are also prescription medication, like finasteride, can block the production of DHT and reduce the effect on the follicles but with significant side effects.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Except for the women experiencing it, there is a common misconception that hair loss is only a problem for men. More than 20 million women in the US suffer from hereditary hair loss. The pattern is somewhat different than in men, but both sexes can begin to experience hair loss in their twenties. For women, hormonal changes can exacerbate hair loss after childbirth, at menopause, while taking hormone replacement or birth control and after hysterectomy.
Unlike male pattern baldness, hereditary hair loss in women typically does not result in complete baldness of the affected area.