Brought to the forefront through popular culture media exposure, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments are, despite their trendy news making, valid cosmetic procedures. Dr. Lina Naga and Dr. Terrence Keaney of SkinDC in Washington DC, use PRP therapy — a form of which is known as the so-called “vampire” facial — as a natural, non-surgical rejuvenating procedure. Call SkinDC to find out more about this skin treatment option.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy has been used for years to treat a variety of sports injuries. The procedure uses plasma taken from the patient’s blood, treats it so that the concentration of platelets is higher than normal, and then administers it to the site of the injury. Through a process called centrifugation, the patient’s own blood is concentrated until it contains between 5 and 10 times the normal allotment of platelets. While perhaps known best for their role in clotting blood, platelets carry proteins called growth factors, essential in the repair and healing stages of injury recovery. In cosmetic procedures, PRP therapy is typically done with injections or in combination with microneedling.
For cosmetic uses, PRP is typically injected into problem areas to treat wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars, and hair thinning. There are standard injection points for treatment, and clinical studies show good results and patient satisfaction. For facial application, skin tone and tightness show improvement and most people treated with PRP injections have no serious or persistent side effects. For scalp applications, studies have shown thickening and regrowth of hair, as well as decreased hair loss.
Where PRP seems most promising is in combination with other treatments. Although the exact science behind the effects of PRP is still not precisely understood, it is theorized that the growth factors present in platelets supercharge tissue recovery and healing. PRP used in conjunction with a collagen induction therapy, such as microneedling, can result in greater improvements, likely due to additional tissue renewal, stimulated by the addition of platelets to the collagen regeneration process. Since the combined therapies are regenerative, PRP and microneedling may produce long lasting results.
While research into the effectiveness of PRP therapy remains ongoing, it’s clear that the therapy itself carries minimal risk. Treatments may irritate tissue near the injection site, much like any use of hypodermic needles might. Typical complications from injections, such as infection, and or tissue damage, are no different than with other injection procedures. Risk of allergic reaction is minimal, given that the plasma is derived from the individual's own blood.