What is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. Your blood is made up of several things including:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
- Plasma and serum
Plasma is the liquid portion that contains clotting factors and other proteins. So, when your blood is drawn, the red liquid in the test tube contains all of the above components. These components can be separated by spinning the blood in a centrifuge much like salad dressing separates.
One of the layers is the plasma portion and this layer contains platelets. So, why is this so special?
What does PRP do?
For the history of time, man has been searching for the fountain of youth. All of us truly believe that there exists some magic serum that will make us young, regrow hair in places that should have hair and remove hair in places that should not have any hair. PRP is this generation’s fountain of youth.
PRP contains platelets and a host of proteins that speed up wound healing, increase collagen, stimulate hair regrowth, and a whole host of other things that is really beneficial in regenerative medicine.
For example, PRP is being used to regrow cartilage in knee joints in patients with chronic knee pain. PRP is also being used in hips and backs for patients with chronic back and hip pain. Dr. Athre himself has undergone PRP injections into his back to help with chronic back pain.
How does PRP fit into Plastic Surgery?
So, how does PRP fit into the cosmetic field? First of all, PRP can be used as a topical agent on wounds (e.g. incisions) to improve wound healing with respect to time of healing. Also, PRP can be used to increase collagen, and decrease time needed to grow new skin after skin resurfacing procedures such as chemical peels, facial laser procedures, dermabrasion procedures, and micro needling procedures.
Usage of PRP with micro needling was found to be so effective that a new term was coined to describe this procedure: the vampire facelift. In all of these procedures, PRP has been shown to increase collagen growth, increase skin thickness, and decrease the time needed for new skin growth more than the procedures would do alone.
Another interesting application of PRP is ALMI. ALMI is a mixture of microfat particles combined with PRP. This mixture can be used to replace lost volume in the face and hands, and has even been shown to grow lost hair on the scalp. The true reason for this is that the microfat droplets have been shown to have stem cells and the PRP provides important growth factors that regenerates aged tissues.
Pitfalls of PRP at Salons
As is true with anything great, it has the potential to be exploited. PRP has almost become the “magic Snake oil” of our generation. Every spa offers PRP-facials and the end consumer is left hoping it works. What the end consumer needs to know is that not all PRP is equivalent. There is a high degree of variation is the amount of proteins, the concentration of platelets, etc in different PRP preparations. Most of the cheap PPP preparations offer little more than “enhanced blood”.
All of these reasons are all the more reason to seek out a licensed, certified surgeon with experience in using PRP for regenerative procedures.
I am one of the few plastic surgeons offering a range of procedures that utilize PRP as a solo entity and in combination with fat and as an adjunct to existing facial plastic procedures. I want to make sure that my patients don’t feel that PRP is just “snake oil”. It is useful- but you have to know how to use it. In today’s world, anything good is exploited for the purpose of profit.
Even BOTOX is available in adulterated forms because there is the potential for quick profit. My motto has always been to educate my patients. I want them to know what they are getting, and why we are doing it. PRP is no different. It works great given that it used correctly, and is harvested correctly.
If you want to know more about PRP for regenerative options contact us today!