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Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment: Does It Work?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

What is PRP?

Platelet-rich plasma therapy (blood therapy) or PRP injections is a treatment procedure which involves using the body’s blood platelets to stimulate healing or growth. It is administered by injection; hence the term ‘PRP injections‘.
To begin, a doctor extracts a suitable amount of blood from a patient, usually from the arm. The blood is then inserted into a specialised machine which will run the blood through a centrifuge. This process separates the platelet-rich plasma from the rest of the blood’s components.
Only the platelets are required for this therapy, as platelets are blood cells that cause blood clots and possess other necessary growth and healing functions.

What is platelet-rich plasma therapy used for?

PRP is often called “regenerative medicine” because of its primary purpose which is for accelerated healing. The principle is based on harnessing your own body’s platelets abilities to amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal tissues.

The platelets rich plasma that was drawn from a patient’s body is injected back into his/her injured or diseased body tissues. This concentrated platelets rich plasma will now stimulate the body to grow new, healthy cells faster and thus promote healing. Because the tissue growth factors are more concentrated in the prepared growth injections, medical experts are of opinion that PRP can accelerate the body’s restorative process in that particular body part.

In recent years, dermatologists provide PRP treatments for the face, also popularly known as a “vampire facial.” The same theory applies in this case; the facial skin injected with PRP will trigger skin renewal and over time, heal scars, diminish wrinkles, sun damage, dark circles and also improve skin clarity.

Things to know about PRP

Human blood is composed up of liquid and solids. The liquid is known as plasma and is made of water, salts and protein. It transports red, white blood cells and platelets through your body. Over 50% of your blood is plasma. The solid part of the blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The principal function of platelets is to prevent bleeding and it is this blood cell that makes your blood clot. They also play a role in healing.

And hence the role of platelets in PRP injections – platelets in the blood are isolated and this concentrated dose is injected into body parts that needed healing. This would induce the body’s healing and tissue renewal process which in turn accelerates recovery period. In short, PRP injections use the individual’s self healing system to drive recovery and in the case of orthopaedic conditions, to curb pain.

How much does PRP treatment cost?

Cost per treatment vary depending on body parts treated (face, joints, scalp), facilities, the expertise of the doctor performing the treatment and location. Often, a patient would require multiple injections given 2 to 3 months apart to achieve desired recovery and results.

How long does it take to recover from Platelet Rich Plasma procedure?

There is no downtime to PRP treatments but your doctor may recommend that you rest the affected area. The rest is more of providing relief to the injured area than directly due to the PRP injections. Most people can continue their daily activities right after treatment.

When to go for platelet-rich rich plasma injections?

Consider PRP if you are seeking a natural restorative process for your injuries, had experienced considerable hair loss and for the face, to induce scar healing (particularly for those with acne problem) as well as to improve your complexion.

Does PRP really work?

As a whole, platelet-rich plasma has been found to significantly enhance the healing process for several parts of the body. PRP treatment for face is a rather popular choice for those who desire clear, scarless complexion. To this end, platelet rich plasma reviews has been encouraging in terms of efficacy for face rejuvenation and acne scar healing.

On the medical front, doctors have found PRP to be a promising therapy for those who experience tissue damage or hair loss. PRP has also been demonstrated to improve function and reduce pain in people with severe sports injuries such as tendonitis, chronic conditions such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, tendon ruptures, joint pains and torn ligaments.

Besides, another key advantage of PRP injections is that they can reduce the need for anti-inflammatories and strong medications like painkillers.

How long does it take for PRP to work?

PRP injections are intended to promote healing or growth by your body’s natural restorative system. Hence the results are not immediate. Improvements are commonly seen or experienced in several weeks or months, where patients may detect faster healing or growth in the treated area.
In most cases, including hair loss, repeated procedures are required to maintain the results.

Platelet rich plasma therapy side effects

Because PRP involves injecting a substance into the skin, there are potential side effects. Since PRP is autologous (contains substances that originated from your own body), there is little risks for allergic reactions or major complications.
However, there are risks from the injection itself, including but not limited to infection, nerve injuries, pain at the injected area and tissue damage.

As with all medical procedures, consult a qualified doctor who are experienced enough to minimise these risks.

Platelet Rich Plasma and Platelet Gel (PG)

PG is commonly obtained by mixing PRP with thrombin (a potent platelet activator) and calcium gluconate so that the final result is the gelation of the platelet concentrate.

Types of PRP treatments available

Platelet rich plasma with ultrasound

This basically means the doctors used ultrasound imaging to guide the areas of injection.

PRP injections

PRP injections are currently used in a number of body parts. Examples of these include:

Hair loss:
Doctors have used PRP injections to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. The PRP injections are inserted into the scalp and has been effective in treating androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.

Tendon and ligament injuries:
Tendons and ligament tissues are usually slow to heal after injuries. Doctors have adopted PRP injections to treat chronic tendon problems such as tennis elbow, tendon-related knee pains as well as Achilles tendonitis at the ankle, which are all injury-prone joints.

Acute injuries:
Sports related injuries are one of the main areas where PRP injections are most useful. It is used to treat common but persistently slow to heal traumas such as pulled hamstring muscles or sprains.

Post surgical repair:
Depending on cases, doctors may opt for PRP injections for post-surgery healing, particularly to parts like tendon and ligaments.

Osteoarthritis:
Doctors are turning to PRP injections to treat an expanding list of orthopaedic conditions including osteoarthritis. It is most commonly used for knee osteoarthritis, but may be used on other joints such as the elbows, hips, spine and hands.

Safety and Invasiveness

As injecting PRP involves using an individual’s natural platelets, he/she should not experience adverse reactions to the injections. However, it is possible that some patients may have irritation, pain, or bleeding at the injection areas.

What to expect after treatment?

A bit of swelling, soreness or bleeding at the injected areas may occur and these reactions will subside within a few days. In general, the patient should avoid water from the treatment area for 48 hours. Post 48 hours, patient is able to resume usage of hair and skin care products.
In case of severe pain, the patient should notify the doctor right away.

Recovery time

There is little to no downtime for post-PRP recovery. Aside from avoiding contact with water, most people can resume their normal activities almost immediately after having a PRP injection.

Risks

As PRP is autologous (containing substances that come directly from your own body), the risks of an allergic reaction is low. However, as with any type of injection, there are possibilities of bleeding, pain, and infection.

These risks are minimised if you are in the hands of an experienced and qualified doctor.

Medical considerations

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding medications that may prolong bleeding such as aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen or blood thinners.  Do not consume any medication unless it is prescribed by your PRP doctor. During consultation, your doctor would have informed you on the do and don’ts as part of your preparation for the PRP procedure. Do adhere to the advice given to protect yourself from complications and to ensure the success of your treatment.

Choosing a reliable provider

You should only get PRP injections from a licensed doctor.

Certifications

Choosing a doctor shouldn’t be taken lightly, since it concerns the quality of your health and potentially a matter of life or death. A certified and licensed doctor/practitioner is the minimum requirement when one seeks a doctor but a truly great specialist goes beyond paper qualifications.
As a start, a trusted certification qualifies that the doctor meets minimum standards to treat patients. If the doctor is part of a specialty board or is known in the industry for his authority on the subject matter, it demonstrates that a doctor has gone above and beyond the basics of medical training and has achieved further training and experience in his/her specialty.
Do not believe in advertising alone or restrict yourself based on budget. In the course of your research, investigate for reliable reviews and real life testimonials from other satisfied patients to learn more about the doctor’s competency.

Cost of treatment

Cost per treatment vary depending on body parts treated, facilities, the expertise of the doctor performing the treatment and location. Often, a patient would require multiple PRP injections given 2 to 3 months apart to achieve desired recovery and results.

Conclusion/Final thoughts

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) has been used for decades to facilitate surgical tissue repair. The current trend of injecting PRP to enhance tissue regeneration and repair is a logical progression. Applications include treatment of osteoarthritis, hair loss (Androgenetic alopecia), acute and chronic soft tissue injuries, muscle or ligament tear, enhancement of healing after bone or tissue reconstruction as well as platelet-rich rich plasma skin rejuvenation in the medical aesthetic field.
PRP has been noted to be a beneficial solution for all above though more often than not, multiple treatments are necessary for notable healing progress.

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