Withdrawing blood from a patient, putting it through a centrifuge and then re-injecting the “good bits” back into the scalp is a relatively new treatment for hair loss
that is being explored. While some studies suggest a measure of success, there isn’t yet an industry standard with regards the best way in which the treatment should be used.
A medical centre in Los Angeles has announced plans to change that with a new study into how often and how many injections will give optimal results. It hopes that its findings will help inform future treatment plans for people with the genetic conditions Male Pattern Baldness
and Female Pattern Hair Loss
Known as PRP
(platelet-rich plasma), the treatment began life in other fields of regenerative medicine, including skin rejuvenation (it is known as the vampire facial
because of its slightly grisly application) and treating sports injuries. While sceptics remain some doctors state that PRP is no more beneficial than saltwater some studies
show that it can help give the body a “boost” where it is needed.
In a nutshell, it is "growth factors" which are found in the plasma of blood that has been extracted in a centrifuge that are re-injected where they are needed. These, say proponents, can help encourage growth and repair at a cellular level.
The LA study is being organised by a centre named the Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills which already offers PRP treatment as an option for hair loss.
On its website the company states that there “is mounting evidence that the growth factors stimulated by PRP control the hair cycle and can be helpful in treating male or female pattern hair loss… hats off to any therapy, such as PRP, that has no medication side effects, no risk of allergic reaction, and potentially restores fuller hair like you once had.”
These comments do, of course, lack specifics: in fact, two recent published studies
arguably failed to confirm that PRP treatment was an effective way to beat baldness when used on its own. A more accurate interpretation of the data released from those trials, perhaps, is that PRP might serve as an effective “booster” when used alongside clinically-tested hair loss treatments
High strength minoxidil
Male hair loss treatment
typically makes use of the only two MHRA licensed and FDA approved medications clinically-proven for this condition - one an oral DHT-blocking tablet and one a topical solution - high strength minoxidil
- applied directly to the scalp where needed to promote hair growth. The approach is similar for female pattern hair loss treatment
although this does not include the DHT-blocking tablet as this is only suitable for men.
In both instances supplementary hair growth supporting products
may be used alongside either or both of these established medications.
The Beverly Hills trial, for which 40 men and women with genetic hair loss are being recruited, will assess both the number of injections and the frequency of these in order to ascertain the most effective treatment programme. The results of the study are expected in November 2017.
While PRP has yet to establish itself as a “go-to” treatment for genetic baldness, doctors in Egypt recently claimed
it was better than minoxidil 5% at treating hair loss people with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
. While these findings are certainly interesting, it was not tested against other strengths of minoxidil. Also, they don’t appear to take into account that Alopecia Areata is often a rather fleeting condition in which the bald patches it causes can clear up spontaneously.