AN OVERVIEW OF PLATELET-RICH PLASMA
Platelet-rich plasma is also known as PRP. It is a substance that enhances healing when injected. The plasma is a blood component containing special proteins or factors that allows the blood to clot. It is also rich in proteins that support the growth of cells. Scientists have artificially produced platelet rich plasma through plasma isolation from the blood, and then subsequent concentration.
It is believed that the injection of platelet-rich plasma stimulates the growth of new and healthy cells in the body, thus promoting healing. Because the tissue growth factors have a higher concentration in the prepared growth injections, scientists believe that the tissues will heal more quickly.
There has been no definite proof to treatment with platelet-rich plasma. As a matter of fact, the US FDA is yet to approve PRP as a treatment. However, renowned athletes like Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods have used PRP to facilitate healing of injuries.
APPLICATIONS OF PRP INJECTIONS
Scientists are trying out platelet-rich plasma injections across many applications. These include:
Baldness: PRP is injected into the bald scalp to enhance the growth of hair and prevent loss of hair. A 2014 research has shown that platelet-rich plasma injections are very effective for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, also referred to as male pattern baldness.
Tendon injuries: Tendons are tissue that link the muscle to bones. They are tough bands of tissue. Tendons do not heal quickly after an injury. PRP injections have been used by physicians to treat chronic disorders of the tendon such as Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, or jumper’s knee.
Acute injuries: Platelet-rich plasma has been used for the treatment of sport injuries such as knee sprains and pulled hamstring muscles.
Osteoarthritis: PRP has been used on patients with osteoarthritis. The mixture is usually injected into the knees. A study conducted in 2015 has found that platelet-rich plasma injections are very effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis, more effective than hyaluronic injections.
Postsurgical repair: PRP injections are sometimes used after surgery to effect repairs on damaged tendons (for example the rotator cuff tendon). It may also be used for repairs of the ligament (like the anterior cruciate ligament).
BENEFITS OF PRP THERAPY
Natural and improved healing: Injection of platelet-rich plasma into damaged or injured tissues enhances the process of regeneration for better healing. When done alongside facelift surgery, platelet rich plasma is injected near sutures, into sites of incision, and under the skin to facilitate the healing of tissues and with good results.
Scarring is reduced: PRP therapy is also beneficial to the human through its potential to reduce scarring. This is of immense benefit to those who undergo facelift surgery and want to reduce the visibility of scars.
Recovery is faster: It has been established above, the PRP therapy increases platelet count in the tissues, which can facilitate healing after surgery.
Swelling is reduced: Swelling is reduced when PRP therapy is combined with facelift surgery. This can allow patients witness the results of their treatment much sooner than expected.
Reduction in blood loss: Platelet rich therapy increases the platelet count at the site of injections, thus most PRP beneficiaries do not experience much blood loss.
Bruising is decreased: Bruising results when blood vessels within the skin are injured. These vessels bleed into the tissues, resulting in the purple coloration seen in bruises. However, this issue is addressed by platelet rich therapy which reduces the severity of bruising and blood loss by increasing the number of clotting factors.
PREPARING FOR PRP INJECTIONS
Preparing for the PRP injection is not a complex process.
Injection of PRP can be done in a number of ways. For instance, a lidocaine solution (for numbing) may be applied on the scalp prior to the injection. To have this applied, you may have to report early to a treatment session.
In other cases, the PRP is mixed with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort. In other cases, the physician may inject the PRP during a surgical procedure. Here, preparing for the PRP therapy would involve adopting your surgeon’s pre-surgery recommendations.
DOES PRP HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
Platelet rich therapy involves the injection of some substance beneath the skin. Hence, there is bound to be side effects. Platelet rich plasma is autologous. The implication is that it contains substances sourced from within your own body. The risk for allergic reactions are reduced. Of course, injection of other substances such as hyaluronic acid or cortisone can cause allergic reactions. On the other hand, the risk associated with the injection itself include:
- Nerve injuries
- Tissue damage
- Pain at the site of the injection
The patient is advised to discuss these risks with his or her physician so that steps may be taken to reduce these risks.
PRP is applied in the following specialties:
- Orthopedics and traumatology
- Stomatology and Maxillofacial surgery
- Sport Medicine
- Plastic Surgery
- General Surgery
- Aschwanden C. (2014). Platelet-rich plasma treatment is popular for sports injuries, whether it works or not.
- Johnson C. (2013). Some hair loss patients turn to PRP.
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- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP). (2011).
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. (n.d.).
- Raeissadat R, et al. (2015). Knee osteoarthritis injection choices: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) versus hyaluronic acid (a one-year randomized clinical trial). DOI:
- Wesner M, et al. (2016). A pilot study evaluating the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma therapy for treating degenerative tendinopathies: A randomized control trial with synchronous observational cohort. DOI: