The use of Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the medical and cosmetic arena has grown exponentially over the past few decades. Originally quite common in Europe, the role of PRP in the United States is only beginning to grow as we learn more about the benefits of PRP in the setting of a variety of conditions. Whether it be used for sports injuries, facial rejuvenation or even hair loss, medical studies involving PRP are only showing positive effects with little to no negative implications. This is explained by the fact that PRP treatments use a patient’s own healing cells to promote regeneration within a specific treatment area.
What is platelet-rich plasma?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is essentially a concentrated solution of plasma and platelets. PRP is comprised of primarily two components: plasma (the liquid portion of blood), and platelets, a cell within the blood that contributes to your body’s ability to clot and to heal damaged area within the body. Many people only see Platelets as the “clotting” cell for their clotting abilities. Unfortunately, a function of Platelets that is greatly underappreciated is their contribution to the healing process. Medical science has shown that platelets can release growth factors that trigger cell reproduction and stimulate tissue regeneration or healing in injured areas.
To create platelet-rich plasma, a blood sample is taken from the patient and place it into a device called a centrifuge. This device rapidly spins that blood sample, forcing the various components that make up a person’s blood separate out into component layers. The plasma and the platelets found within blood sample will form one or more of these layers. It is the mixing of these two layers that forms your PRP.
What is a PRP injection?
A PRP injection is what happens when you take the PRP and inject that mixture into the target area that you are looking to treat. Your target can be an injured knee or the skin of the face. In some instances, even ultrasound guidance is used to help deliver the PRP injection to the desired location within the body. The objective is to place a high concentration of platelets within the damaged or target tissue. The platelets then begin to release their growth factors and other bioproteins that promote an acceleration in tissue regeneration. The result is an increased rate of healing and rejuvenation of the target tissue.
Although the precise mechanism by which PRP is able to promote healing is not entirely understood, studies uniformly show that PRP injections do in fact accelerate the healing process, decrease pain, and even promote skin rejuvenation.
What can PRP be used for?
PRP injections for the longest time were seen as primarily an orthopaedic treatment drug used for joint repairs. As we learn more about PRP, it has become quite apparent that PRP may become a miracle concoction for use in a wide range of conditions ranging from musculoskeletal pain and injuries to cosmetic procedures. Below are only a few things that PRP injections have been shown to be effective in the treatment of:
Studies suggest that PRP injections may be beneficial in the treatment of pain and stiffness originating from osteoarthritis. The mechanism, although not entirely clarified, suggests that PRP helps to promote the development of a more favorable joint environment by reducing inflammation within the joint space. Some studies also suggest that there is a possible regenerative effect within the joint that may help to prolong joint function while decreasing joint discomfort.
PRP injections have also been shown to be effective in treating hair loss by both preventing hair loss while also promoting new hair growth. PRP has also been shown clinically to be a nice adjunct to hair transplantation by helping to stimulate growth of the implanted hairs.
Skin Rejuvenation and Cosmetics
PRP use is rapidly finding its way into the cosmetic and rejuvenation arena due to its anti-aging effects. There is nothing better in the world of cosmetics than an anti-aging and regenerative process that is completely natural with no foreign additives such as fillers and botox. Clinicians are finding that using PRP in conjunction with State of the Art laser treatments can greatly diminish many of the signs of aging that we all dread.
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Risks and Side Effects of PRP
Since PRP is derived directly from a patient’s own blood, PRP injections are considered a low-risk procedure with minimal to no major side effects. Some patients do report a slight feeling of lightheadedness when their blood is being drawn. Not uncommon for anyone who does not like to have their blood taken at any physician’s office. This is why we encourage patients to hydrate and eat prior to the procedure. After the procedure, some individuals also report some mild bruising and soreness in and around the injection site. This is also not of any real concern given the nature of the procedure. The primary concern that most physicians have with any procedure is the risk of an allergic reaction occurring following the treatment. Fortunately, since PRP is comprised of the patient’s own blood product there is little to no risk of an allergic reaction occurring unlike in the case of other injectables such as fillers, corticosteroids and botox. The most commonly reported side effects associated with the PRP treatment involve localized bleeding (bruising), infection of the injection site and the potential for nerve injuries due to the needle inadvertently nicking a nerve upon entering the skin. These reported complications are typically self-limited and/or easily treatable.
If you are suffering with injuries or are looking for a natural cosmetic rejuvenation treatment, PRP injections represent the future of many medical and cosmetic treatments. Call our offices at 314.842.1441 to schedule a free consultation to see how PRP treatment can help you.