Hair restoration surgery is generally considered the only permanent solution to female or male pattern baldness. But not everyone is ready for or wants to undergo surgery, even if they are unhappy with their hair loss. A newer option, known as platelet rich plasma therapy, can offer a solution to hair loss for people who don’t want a hair transplant or for people who are experiencing hair loss for a number of other reasons.
Platelet rich plasma, or PRP, is derived from a person’s own blood. Platelets play a big part in the process of wound healing, as they help the blood congeal. It’s thought that when injected into balding areas of the scalp, the PRP can stimulate hair growth by speeding wound healing. PRP also contains a number of growth factors, which can also increase hair growth.
Types of Hair Loss
The type of hair loss a person is experiencing might play a part in determining whether he or she decides to have a hair transplant, PRP therapy, or both. Typically, hair transplants are performed on people with genetic hair loss. The hair lost due to male or female pattern baldness is usually on the top of the head, while the hair on the sides and back of the head usually remains in place. It’s the hair on the back and sides of the head that is transplanted to the top of the scalp, since it won’t be affected by the hormones that cause male or female pattern baldness.
While PRP therapy can be used to treat male or female pattern baldness, it’s more often used to treat other types, such as alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes people to develop patchy bald spots, or traction alopecia, which occurs when a person consistently wears tight hair styles.
PRP therapy can also be combined with a hair transplant, to perhaps improve the results of the surgery. The PRP can be injected into the skin at the site of the transplant, to encourage the newly grafted hairs to grow.
The process of a hair transplant is considerably different from the process used for PRP therapy. If a patient decides to undergo PRP therapy, the first step is to draw a small amount of blood. The blood sample is then placed in a centrifuge, so that the plasma separates from the other cells. The platelet rich portion of the plasma is then drawn into a syringe, and injected into the appropriate areas of the scalp. Usually, the entire process takes less than an hour and half. Discomfort is minimal during treatment, as well, but patients can elect to receive a local anesthetic to completely eliminate any pain from the injection.
In contrast, the process of hair restoration is considerably more involved. The hairs that are going to be transplanted are first removed from the back or sides of the head, either one by one or in a strip, depending on the method used. The hairs are then prepared as grafts, which typically contain a few follicles.
The surgeon then positions the grafts on the scalp, in the balding areas. Placing the follicles is both a precise and artistic process. The surgeon wants to make sure the grafts will grow in a way that looks natural, as if there was no transplant at all. Usually, a patient receives local anesthetic during a hair transplant, but remains awake for the procedure.
The recovery is short following both a hair transplant and PRP therapy, but there are some major differences. Usually, people can wash their hair right away after receiving PRP therapy. Shampooing the hair and using any type of styling product should be avoided for several days after a hair transplant.
Most people feel comfortable returning to work a day after PRP therapy, while most hair restoration patients take at least three days off from work. Physical activity should be limited for some time after both procedures, as increased blood pressure and blood flow can lead to complications or impact results.
When to Expect Results
In both cases, it does take some time to see the results from the treatment. After a hair transplant, the transplanted hair actually sheds a few days after the surgery, which can be alarming for some people. Once the hair is shed, it does start to regrow. Many patients start to see new growth a few months after the surgery. In most instances, full regrowth occurs by the tenth month after the procedure.
PRP therapy also needs some time to produce visible results, since the plasma needs time to work on the follicles and to stimulate growth. Depending on the person, new growth can be seen within a few months. The majority of patients notice a fuller head of hair within eight months.
No matter the cause of it, hair loss doesn’t have to negatively affect your life or your looks. Learn more about your options for treating hair loss by speaking with a hair restoration specialist, such as Dr. Kyle Choe in Virginia Beach, today. Call (757) 389-5850 today.