A novel medical procedure that has been nicknamed the Vampire Treatment is claimed to be better at treating people with Alopecia Areata than one of the current “go to” hair loss treatments, according to a medical team in Egypt.
Doctors at the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Andrology at Aswan University assembled a pool of 90 people with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which manifests itself as sudden, patchy hair loss, for a study and split them into three groups.
One third was treated with platelet-rich plasma (more of which in a moment); a second third was treated with a topical solution of the genetic hair loss drug minoxidil 5%. This topical product is one of the industry’s most commonly-used, and one of only two drugs clinically-proven and licensed for treating Male Pattern Baldness. The last third was given a placebo.
Significant hair growth
The team states that the patients in the first two groups saw “significant hair growth” over a three-month period compared to those in the third. They further state that “patients treated with platelet-rich plasma had an earlier response in the form of hair regrowth and reduction in short vellus hair and dystrophic hair, unlike patients treated with minoxidil.”
In conclusion, they assert that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a more effective treatment for Alopecia Areata than topical minoxidil 5%. They did not test any higher strengths of minoxidil, although this dose-dependent drugs is also available in a range of potencies. The study also does not appear to take into account the fact that people with Alopecia Areata may experience spontaneous hair growth unrelated to the effects of any treatment.
If the results can be replicated on a larger study group, it would seem that the team’s findings pave a very promising new route to treatment for people with Alopecia Areata, which is not always easy to treat. The condition has several suspected triggers including severe, long-term stress and physical trauma, but its complexities and causes continue to captivate some of the finest minds in medical science.
New treatments based around strong drugs known as JAK inhibitors, as well as those centred around modified body fat, are also being investigated as possible treatment options for people with Alopecia Areata, especially the most severe forms – Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis which there are currently no truly effective treatments for. However, the Egyptian study potentially may put platelet rich plasma right at the front of the queue for novel treatments – not least because PRP seems to have few complications. By comparison, JAK inhibitors have been associated with some serious side-effects.
For those with patchy hair loss, Belgravia has had, and continues to see, significant regrowth results from using a personalised approach and tailoring an alopecia areata treatment course to each individual’s needs. These are often built around formulations of high strength minoxidil available from our in-clinic pharmacies, and are combined with appropriate therapies and food supplements where recommended.
What happens during PRP treatment is that a patient’s blood is first extracted (hence “Vampire Treatment”) before being put in a centrifuge. This splits the blood up into different parts: the layer containing the platelets (about six per cent of the total volume) and what are known as “growth factors” is removed and re-injected into the patient’s scalp, where hair loss is evident.
It is similar in principle to procedures that have also been developed to treat wrinkles, skin graft donor sites and burns, among other complaints.
In recent years PRP has been touted as a genetic hair loss treatment for men and women with thinning hair. However, two trials so far have found the procedure to be ineffective as a treatment. When it comes to Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss, both have placed these injections firmly in the category of hair growth booster when used alongside clinically-proven treatments, rather than being a treatment in its own right.
One obvious drawback about PRP is that patients often need several sessions to see a real difference, with one UK clinic which offers the treatment recommending 7-10 sessions. These can cost around £400 each. It has also been noted that the scalp injections can be painful, and treatment may need to continue on an ongoing basis to be effective, making it extremely costly, especially when compared to the price of personalised pharmaceutical hair loss treatment courses which, at Belgravia, start from around £600 per year.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.