What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and why is it good for us? To put it simply it is plasma that is rich with platelets.
So what is plasma and why do we need it?
Plasma is one of the four main components that make up human blood along with red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Plasma makes up 55% of our blood and is the liquid portion made up of 90% water, 6-8% proteins, 2-4% salts, lipids and glucose.
Plasma is responsible for transporting gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen; nutrients like glucose and amino acids, hormones; proteins; lipids; ions such as sodium, chloride, and calcium; and various waste products. Plasma also performs a number of other functions including working with platelets to form scabs. Platelets are small discoid cells with a life span of about 7-10 days and are very important, as they contribute to forming blood clots.
With abundant platelets in our own bodies the concept of PRP treatment is quite ingenious. PRP is a rich source of many different kinds of growth factors and cytokines, which activate the healing of soft tissue and bone.
The efficiency of growth factors for healing injuries and rejuvenation of the body increases as the concentrations of platelets increase. The platelets inside the PRP can even be activated by the inclusion of calcium chloride, and thrombin.
PRP was first used in 1987 in an open-heart surgery. The safety and effectiveness have been well established and since 2006, PRP has been introduced and trusted for facial rejuvenation in Europe, Japan and Australia.
In cosmetic procedures, producing PRP from your blood can be used to clog up tears and cuts. In addition, the growth factors from the platelets can stimulate the production of collagen, during the injection into the skin.
Preparation of PRP
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two ways to prepare PRP. Both processes involve collecting whole blood. After collection, the blood is centrifuged to separate the PRP from red blood cells and platelet-poor plasma. The typical human baseline platelet count is about 200,000 per µL, while that in the PRP is more than five-fold.
Applications of PRP in Medical & Cosmetic Purposes
As mentioned above, PRP is widely used in medical and cosmetic procedures. It is an important tool for medical treatments, like nerve injury, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, cardiac muscle injury, regeneration, bone repair, oral surgery and plastic surgery.
In cosmetic procedures, PRP is commonly used to stimulate the production of collagen, during the injection into the skin.
Before the facial rejuvenation with PRP, a nurse will evaluate and assess the degree of skin ageing and a skin analysis may also be done. After evaluation, a physician will consult with the patient about the reasonable outcome that can be expected from the treatment. Sometimes, the nurse will take a pre-treatment photo for comparison after the treatment.
Before the treatment, the skin is cleansed, anaesthetic cream applied and blood is collected from the arm, which is placed into the test tube for centrifugation.
After preparation and activation, the PRP is then injected into obvious wrinkles and lines. The remaining PRP can and usually is injected into other skin areas.
Dermal roller treatment may be applied to facilitate the movement of PRP into the skin. A collagen mask may also be used to protect the skin, aid in its recovery and introduce more PRP into skin.
Facial Rejuvenation with PRP is a once only treatment. However, if lines or wrinkles are still highly visible, further injections may be applied in 4-6 weeks’ intervals.
Although the use of PRP in medical and cosmetic treatments is common, the clinical validation is at the very early stages. There are no large-scale clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of PRP. For instance, PRP used in sports medicine and nerve injury is highly effective but not stable.
Some studies have claimed that the clinical trials on the safety and effectiveness of PRP were not adequate. Although PRP is a promising treatment for joint, ligament, tendon injuries, the clinical effects cannot be confirmed. However this does not affect the popularity of the treatment, with even celebrities embracing PRP. For example, Tiger Woods used PRP therapy to assist in his recovery from knee surgery in 2008.
Patient Complications from PRP
Besides the skeptical clinical studies of PRP it is still considered to be very safe for the patient. As PRP uses your own blood there should be little to no complications at all. The only complications may be minimal swelling, redness or bruising with 24 hours. Since the complications are minor and temporary, after 24 hours, the patient will have recovered. At the needle site, a bruise might be anticipated for 2 – 3 days. PRP will help to improve and repair the skin tissue, and has been proven to do so with visible results.
The use of PRP still raises some concerns. Some think that PRP treatments go against the anti-doping rules. Local injections from PRP might have an impact on systemic cytokine levels in the patient. In addition, some people also have concerns about PRP treatments negatively affecting performance or having anabolic effects. However there is a lack of evidence to suggest that PRP has any negative clinical effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which body and facial area can be treated?
A: Several body and facial areas can be treated, such as around the eyes, forehead, cheeks, neck, jawline, chest, back of arms and hands. However, before the treatments, you must consult a physician to determine your suitability.
Q: How long will treatment take?
A: Two tubes takes 45-60 minutes to complete.
Q: How many treatments are recommended?
A: Normally, it is recommended to have at most three treatments at any one time, with intervals of 4-6 weeks.
Q: What I can anticipate after the PRP treatments?
A: Skin tone and texture will show improvement within a few weeks. After three months, collagen should be fully regenerated.
Q: Is PRP treatment suitable for any skin type?
A: Yes, all skin colours and types are suitable for PRP treatments.
Q: Can I expect any discomfort after the treatments?
A: The response of intra-dermal injections can vary for each person. However, adverse patient complications are rare. Physicians might use topical anaesthesia before the treatments. You may have redness, bruising, or slight swelling after the procedure, however these symptoms will disappear fairly quickly.
Q: Is there any time I can’t have PRP treatments?
A: Normally, if you are taking certain medications, such as blood thinning medication, having long-term steroidal therapy, pregnant or breastfeeding, or have cancer, it is not recommended to have PRP treatments. However, please provide full details of your medical history to your physician. They will provide you with a professional review and consider if you are suitable to have PRP treatments.