What Do You Think About PRP for Treating Hair Loss?'

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Question: I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on PRP for hair loss. Do you think it is worthwhile as a hair loss treatment?

Answer: Hi, Johan. Using Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy, or 'PRP' in relation to hair loss is a fairly new concept and still quite controversial.

PRPPRP is generally used to improve and accelerate healing, particularly bone grafts and soft tissue done in maxillofacial surgery. The main concept is that the donor and recipient are the same (autologous). Blood plasma is taken and concentrated with more platelets than normally present then re-introduced to the same person via an injection - scalp injections in the case of hair loss. It is recommended by some practitioners that these scalp injection sessions take place every five to six weeks.

Platelet rich plasma is said to contain more than twenty growth factors which may promote cell proliferation and differentiation, hence causing increased hair growth.

Researchers including the Brazilian Dr. Uebel have shown that storing hair grafts in PRP can enhance graft survival, improve hair density and stimulate the growth of transplanted follicular units. However, the mechanisms by which PRP exerts its effects on the hair follicles are still obscure.

There are certainly a few research papers linking PRP and a positive effect on alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia - male pattern baldness and, in women, female pattern hair loss - without major side effects.

Whilst this is positive, it is worth bearing in mind that these studies are generally on a very small-scale; for example the recent clinical trial into PRP for hair loss which took place in Barcelona featured just 25 particpants and a Swiss trial that is currently underway features only 50.

There is a 2007 research paper into PRP and hair loss which is worth reading and which still holds true despite recent developments, given how small the trials have been to date. This report states that, 'from the current available literature it is clear that there is great variability in study design, clinical and radiographic parameters that were measured, and clinical outcome. Many studies claiming a positive beneficial effect suffer from a poor study design. Many have no controls or a limited sample size. In general, conclusions advocating for an adjunctive effect are not supported by the study design. Therefore, the use of this material cannot be supported at present, and further controlled, prospective clinical trials are urgently needed.'

We would agree with this statement and look forward to further investigations into PRP as it is looking like it may well prove a useful hair growth booster especially when used as part of a comprehensive pharmaceutical hair loss treatment course featuring clinically-proven medications, although there is no proof that it could act as a standalone treatment in its own right.

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