Genetic hair loss is seen in 50% of women by age 50 and even more frequently in men. In addition to male and female genetic patterned loss, there are many other causes of hair loss including hormone irregularities, autoimmunity, follicular scarring processes, medications, stress, and medical illness. Only occasionally are nutritional deficiencies a serious concern. It is not a rarity that a person’s hair loss is multifactorial. Successful treatment requires addressing all of these causes.
Platelet-rich plasma is a non-invasive treatment for hair loss that has gained popularity over the past few years. In addition to treating hair loss, PRP has been used to treat arthritis, promote wound healing and aid in the recovery from tendon injury.
It is a simple technique whereby a platelet-dense concentrate obtained by centrifuging blood drawn from a patient’s arm is then injected into the areas of hair loss. This concentrate contains multiple times the concentration of platelets in our blood. Platelets are the cells in our blood needed for blood clotting and are a crucial component of wound healing. Importantly for the PRP technique, they contain growth factors believed to be the key to how PRP works.
These growth factors are believed to stimulate hair growth by multiple mechanisms including causing follicular stem cell differentiation as well as prolonging the growth phase of hair. The technique also appears to increase the vascular plexus surrounding hair follicles.
There have been numerous studies supporting the use of PRP in the treatment of hair loss. Although most PRP study data pertains to genetic hair loss, there is evidence for its efficacy in treating alopecia areata as well as scarring forms of hair loss.