Throughout the ages, humans have always been fascinated by long luscious hair. Across many cultures, long full hair was held as one of the highest standards of beauty.
In fact, records show that in some societies, hair length was used to denote social status among women and physical prowess among men.
Slaves and prisoners of war were usually made to shave their heads clean. Free men and middle-class citizens usually kept their hair short and neat.
In certain tribal societies, warriors usually displayed their battle prowess by the length of their hair.
Warriors with very long hair were revered as gods amongst men as their long hair meant they had probably never been beaten.
And in Europe, from the time of ancient Greece to the middle-ages, longer hair among men and women was one of the surest markers of wealth and power.
The existence of elaborate wigs and hairdos for both sexes lends credence to this. Interestingly, although there is no scientific evidence for this at the time, our forebears also associated a full head of hair with good health.
Sadly today, thick, full hair is slowly becoming a thing of the past as many people suffer from hair loss.
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that 80 million men and women suffer from hereditary hair loss. And though it is more prevalent in adults, the condition is present among children as well.
Given this, several remedies – homemade and pharmaceutical, have been vaunted as the most effective treatments for hair loss. One of such remedy is the increasingly popular PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) therapy.
Before we go further on PRP for hair loss; however, a brief background on the phenomenon of hair loss is necessary.
What is Hair Loss?
Pattern hair loss referred to as male-pattern hair loss in men and female-pattern hair loss in women is hair loss that affects the top and front of the scalp.
It can either be in the form of a receding hairline, a widow’s peak or thinning of the hair. While baldness is generally accepted as part of the aging process, it is a thing of concern for young and middle-aged adults.
Although no conclusive universal studies exist on this, hair loss (when premature) is generally considered unattractive.
Causes of Hair Loss
Several factors are responsible for hair loss. They are
PRP for Hair Loss
Also known as PRP for hair growth, PRP hair regrowth treatment, or Vampire hair regrowth plan, PRP is a hair loss treatment procedure where the patient’s blood is drawn and injected into the scalp after being thoroughly processed.
How Does PRP for Hair Loss Work?
The scalp injections trigger hair growth by increasing blood supply to the hair follicles as well as increasing the thickness of the hair shaft. PRP is based on the theory that damaged tissues can be healed and re-grown by the injection of plasma which contains white blood cells and platelets.
Platelets are key in the healing process as they contain active molecules called growth factors which facilitate the natural healing of damaged tissues. Aside from the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), other growth factors are contained in the plasma.
PRP therapy works by concentrating the platelets found in the blood sample to a very high degree. For example, the normal concentration of platelets in the bloodstream at any given point is 200,000 per microlitre. In a PRP procedure, however, the platelet count can exceed 1,000,000 platelets per microlitre.
Therefore, asides from being used as a treatment for hair loss, PRP has also been applied in treating other medical conditions such as:
In undergoing PRP for hair loss, the first step is usually the application of a numbing lidocaine solution to the scalp before the injection. If this is not possible, a local anesthetic is mixed with the PRP to reduce any feelings of discomfort during the process.
This usually means that preparation for the PRP injections would entail following your medical aesthetician's pre-surgery recommendations.
The PRP injection process
The injection process for PRP for hair loss is done in 3 simple steps. They are:
PRP for Hair Loss: How Effective is It?
The effectiveness of PRP for hair loss has long been the subject of debate. While clinical evidence on the efficacy of PRP therapy is still relatively weak, large volumes of anecdotal evidence suggest it is effective in combating hair loss.
Most people who undergo the therapy experience positive changes in the growth, thickness, and density of their hair after undergoing treatment.
And while it admittedly does not completely re-grow your hair or create new follicles, it causes massive improvement in the thickness and fullness of hair by nourishing existing follicles.
When Do Results Appear?
The changes generally appear within 3 – 6 months, and it is advised that during this period chemical hair treatments and hair products containing sulfates are avoided.
Many factors such as sex, age, blood flow, and hormonal imbalance can affect when the results appear. It must be noted that results appear faster for women than for men.
How long does PRP for hair loss last?
After the initial three months of treatment, it is strongly advised that you continue maintenance treatments every three to six months on a long-term basis (for a year at least). This encourages optimal stimulation of the growth factors and stem cells that are responsible for hair growth.
For maximum effectiveness, PRP for hair loss therapy can be combined with other hair loss treatments like minoxidil and finasteride.
Who Can Undergo PRP for hair loss therapy?
As PRP for hair loss is not a magic wand, only candidates recommended for the treatment by aestheticians can reap the full benefits of the procedure.
It, however, is generally effective for people with:
On the flip side, PRP for hair loss may not be the best option for people who:
Aside from the scenarios mentioned above, you are likely not to be recommended for PRP if you are a heavy smoker or have a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
You are also likely to be rejected outright if you have been diagnosed with acute and chronic infections, hemodynamic instability hypofibrinogenemia, metabolic disorders, platelet dysfunction syndrome, systemic disorder, sepsis, and low platelet count.
PRP for hair loss risks and side effects
As PRP for hair loss is autologous (contains substances that come directly from your body), there is no risk of coming down with an infectious disease.
There are also no real risks associated with the process.
The injections, however, have been known to produce a few side effects in some cases. They are:
It is also advised that persons undergoing PRP report all medications they are on. This includes herbs and supplements.
PRP for hair loss recovery periods
Unlike other applications of PRP, when used for hair treatment, there is little to no recovery time needed. Slight pain may be felt for a day or two after the injection, and there may also be a bit of swelling on the injected areas.
Doctors generally advise that patients who have recently undergone a PRP for hair loss therapy session avoid washing and styling their hair for a day or two.
Warm showers are also encouraged as they increase blood flow to the scalp; thus helping in the growth process
Does PRP work for beard growth?
Currently, the PRP for hair loss procedure is only used for treating thinning hair and loss of hair on the scalp. As a result of this, there has been no study on the effectiveness of PRP for beard growth.
Other treatments for patchy beards like growth oils are recommended in this regard. For hair growth on other parts of the body, a consultation session with your cosmetic aesthetician is the best route.
PRP for hair loss cost
While not as expensive as laser surgery, PRP for hair loss costs does not fall on the cheap side. The expenses are more often than not, paid out-of-pocket as very few insurance plans cover PRP for hair loss costs.
This is because insurance companies largely consider PRP for hair loss as a cosmetic treatment. It is also considered by several insurance companies as an experimental treatment still in the early stages of testing.
As such, despite recent successes, more concrete evidence from the medical community is awaited before PRP for hair loss costs is covered. The price of treatment may vary based on a number of factors such as geographic location, quality of equipment and the addition of nutritious components.
Are there Alternatives to PRP for hair loss?
It is important to note that PRP therapy is the most natural treatment for hair loss available. This is because it uses the patient’s blood in the process as opposed to external substances.
For those not wishing to undergo PRP therapy, however, a few alternatives exist. They are:
Final Thoughts on PRP for Hair Loss
The wealth of evidence in support of the effectiveness of PRP treatment has enabled it to become one of the most accepted modes of hair loss therapy. Furthermore, it enjoys advantages such as: