In recent years, platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) has captured significant attention for its potential to promote hair growth, muscle healing and even treat the symptoms of arthritis! But the burning question remains: Does PRP therapy actually work for treating hair loss?
In this guide, we'll delve into PRP therapy, exploring what it is, how it works, and, most importantly, its potential effectiveness in combating hair loss. We’ll also look at some other alternatives for restoring your luscious locks.
What is PRP therapy, and does it work for hair loss?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a medical treatment that potentially harnesses the power of platelets in our blood to stimulate hair growth.
Blood contains plasma, a yellowish liquid which carries platelets around the body. And platelets play a key role in the natural healing process. The proteins in platelets help nourish the hair, improve blood circulation, and extend the growth phase of the hair cycle. So when platelet-rich plasma is injected into the scalp during the treatment, it may stimulate the dormant hair follicles, promoting hair growth and thickness. Research even suggests that PRP therapy can reduce scalp inflammation, which is one of the causes of hair loss.
As a result, some medical professionals believe PRP therapy has promising results in treating conditions like alopecia. However, while the NHS sometimes use PRP therapy to treat injured ligaments and muscles to speed up the healing process, there’s little clinical proof that it works for hair restoration. Therefore, more research is certainly needed to understand the benefits and how well it works.
PRP therapy process
The PRP therapy process is fairly straightforward. Let's take a closer look at the step-by-step journey, including drawing the blood, separating it, and injecting it.
1.Drawing the blood
Your blood is drawn — usually from your arm — and placed into a centrifuge machine. This machine spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelet-rich plasma from other components.
2.Separating and preparing the blood
After around 10 minutes in the machine, your blood will have separated into three different layers. These include:
- Red blood cells — These make up the bottom layer and are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body.
- Platelet-poor plasma — This layer sits in the middle and contains a lower concentration of platelets compared to the top layer.
- Platelet-rich plasma — This top layer is rich in platelets, growth factors, and other beneficial substances that can promote healing.
Of course, the platelet-rich plasma is the one you’re after, so this will be drawn up into a syringe.
3.Injecting the platelet-rich plasma
A numbing cream or local anaesthetic may be applied to the scalp to reduce any pain or discomfort. Then, the platelet-rich plasma will be injected into the problem areas using a fine needle.
The risks of PRP therapy
While PRP therapy is generally considered safe, like any medical procedure, it does come with potential risks and considerations. Side effects may include:
- Infection — Any time the skin is punctured or a medical procedure is performed, there's a chance of infection. However, choosing a reputable clinic that follows strict sterile techniques and maintains a clean environment can reduce risk.
- Pain and discomfort — PRP therapy involves injections, which can cause temporary pain or discomfort at the injection site.
- Tissue damage — In rare cases, PRP injections may lead to tissue damage, such as nerve or blood vessel injury. This risk can be minimised by ensuring a skilled and experienced healthcare professional performs the injections.
- Allergic reactions — While PRP therapy uses a patient's own blood components, there is still a small risk of allergic reactions, particularly to the anaesthetic. Patients should inform their healthcare provider about any known allergies or sensitivities before undergoing the procedure.
- Scarring — While uncommon, the body's healing response to the PRP injections can lead to the development of fibrous tissue, which may result in scarring or changes in tissue texture.
How much does PRP therapy cost?
The cost of PRP therapy in the UK can vary depending on several factors, including your location, the clinic you choose, and the area of your body you want to treat.
To find out the exact price and any special offers, it's a good idea to get in touch with specific clinics or healthcare providers. They can give you all the details and options available.
The alternatives to PRP therapy for hair loss restoration
PRP hair treatment can be costly, and patients may require additional injections to maintain the results, further bumping up the price. There's also limited clinical proof that it actually works for hair loss, so it's important for patients to manage their expectations.
Thankfully, there are more proven alternatives to restore your hair, including:
If you're looking for a long-lasting solution to achieve a fuller head of hair, transplantation could be a great option for you. This procedure involves taking healthy hair follicles from a donor site — typically the back of the head — and transplanting them in areas that are thinning or balding. And it's not limited to the scalp alone; hair can also be transplanted to the beard or eyebrows! The result is thicker-looking, luscious locks that should last a lifetime.
To find out more, check out our guide on everything you need to know about hair transplant surgeries. Or, book a free, no-obligation consultation; our friendly experts will help you understand the procedure and whether you're a suitable candidate.
Minoxidil — also known as Regaine — is an over-the-counter medication used for treating alopecia. Applying it to the scalp daily helps increase blood flow and deliver nutrients to the hair roots, promoting growth and reducing thinning or balding.
Just remember to consult your doctor before using any topical medication, especially if you have skin issues or underlying medical conditions.
Finasteride — marketed as Propecia — is an oral medication that can be effective in reducing hair loss in men. It works by decreasing the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a hormone associated with male pattern baldness. While it can slow down hair loss and even stimulate hair growth in men, it doesn't typically work well for women.
If you are considering using Finasteride, it's best to consult with your doctor to discuss its potential benefits and any risks or side effects.
A healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a balanced diet is key when it comes to promoting healthy hair growth. Healthline suggests having enough protein and iron in your diet is essential; a deficiency can affect the strength and growth of hair follicles. So try incorporating more protein and iron-rich foods like red meat, nuts, and peas into your meals!
To learn more about natural ways you can improve hair loss, read our tips for healthy hair: 8 everyday changes to stimulate growth.
Restore your hair's former glory with FUE Clinics
While PRP therapy may give you some hair growth, it's important to know that limited clinical proof supports its effectiveness. So, if you're after more reliable and long-lasting results, a hair transplant might be your best bet.