Platelet-rich plasma therapy, better known as PRP, has become a highly sought after treatment for hair loss in both men and women.
It involves taking blood from a patient, spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-dense part of the solution then injecting this back into the scalp.
But what many users don't realise is that these scalp injections are clinically unproven for this purpose and many others it is promoted for, including the anti-ageing vampire facial.
Now, medical regulatory board, Health Canada - the Canadian equivalent of the MHRA in the UK - is cracking down on PRP clinics and practitioners, stating the "safety, efficacy and quality" of these treatments cannot currently be guaranteed.
In a 2019 report on autologous cell therapy products, Health Canada sets out its position with regards stem cell treatments and PRP for various uses, including hair loss, and warns the public that "most of these products are currently at the investigational stage of development with an on-going need to gather supporting scientific evidence."
Furthermore, the use of these scalp injections for 'cosmetic' purposes, such as treating thinning hair, is not currently properly regulated - a key concern when it comes to ensuring patient safety and that effective procedures are properly carried out. Health Canada has particular concerns regarding cross-contamination, equipment being properly sterilized and the potential for immune reactions.
As such, new measures have been outlined to protect patients from "unsafe and deceptive practices", including the promotion of PRP for unproven uses - promoting hair growth, for example.
Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail reports it is likely that those found to be non-compliant with new regulations for PRP will face fines, but quite how, and how strictly, the new rules being put in place will be policed remains to be seen.
Health Canada notes this issue has arisen because existing drug rules and regulations do not cover stem cell or PRP therapies, which is also the case in the USA, which is overseen by the FDA.
Although the EU has created specific rules to cover stem cell-based treatments, the MHRA's position is unclear. It does, however, require any 'blood establishments' - businesses that collect, store or process blood - do require a BEA, blood establishment authorisation, in order to operate in the UK. Businesses must submit to MHRA inspections at least once every two years, having systems in place for reporting side effects or adverse events, and have the relevant blood establishment licence.
It will be interesting to see whether the MHRA follows Health Canada's lead and also implements a crackdown on unlicensed practitioners, as well as those who promote PRP treatments for unproven purposes.
The Globe and Mail quotes Michael Rudnicki, scientific director of the Stem Cell Network, which provides funding and support to stem cell researchers, who feels the Canadian action is 'long overdue', saying:
“It’s a step in the right direction, but they really need to step up their enforcement. The public really has been misinformed by these clinics and by this advertising."
It also spoke to the Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, Tim Caulfield, who added, “We know that there are an increasing number of clinics across North America that are selling these unproven therapies. I think it’s really important to emphasize this stuff is unproven.”
There have been, and continue to be, numerous clinical trials investigating PRP for hair loss, most commonly for Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss, though also for patchy hairloss caused by the autoimmune disorder, Alopecia Areata.
These have provided mixed results, some of which look promising such as the Alopecia Areata research, though often these trials are small in size and fairly short, therefore, larger-scale, longer-term studies are needed to fully ensure the therapy's safety, efficacy and tolerability for any or all of these hair loss conditions.
In some cases PRP has been trialled as an adjunctive therapy, where it is used in addition to existing MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved hair loss treatments for Male and Female Pattern Baldness.
These treatments - finasteride 1mg (men only) and high strength minoxidil (unisex) - can obviously be used on their own, men may also use both, and PRP is an unnecessary addition, though some people may want to try it to help maximise their potential results.
An alternative to PRP for hair growth is low-level laser therapy (LLLT). This is where home-use devices, such as the FDA-cleared HairMax LaserBand, use medical grade lasers to send red light to the scalp to stimulate hair growth and stronger hair.
This established technique self-administered via a headband-style gadget is used for a few minutes up to three times per week, is in no way invasive, plus requires no blood to be taken.
Although this can be employed as a lone method, Belgravia specialists have found the best results for preventing baldness come when this is used in conjunction with the authorised oral and/or topical medications.
Anyone confused about which is the best hair loss solution for them out of the many options available should contact a specialist for a consultation and personalised advice following a professional diagnosis.
Please note: Belgravia does not offer PRP as it is currently unproven as a hair loss treatment
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
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