Many men and women suffer from hair thinning. Sometimes this is natural age-related hair thinning, sometimes it’s male or female pattern hair loss earlier in life and sometimes it’s something more frustrating, such as alopecia areata where the hair loss is unpredictable and often in patches.
And, beyond personal preferences, there is research to indicate that hair loss can affect our lives, including work promotion opportunities, dating and more.
A 2012 Wall Street Journal article outlined a study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School supporting that a shaved head might lead to improved job promotion prospects. However, for women this isn’t really an option. It’s also a leap for a man who is experiencing normal pattern baldness to go from some hair, albeit thinning, to a shaved head.
For many years, regrowth treatments were limited, painful and expensive. Often, the regrowth treatment involved a dermatologist and actual hair transplantation. During this surgical procedure, healthy hair follicles are transplanted into the patient’s scalp with the hope that they will spur growth. This surgery wasn’t very unlike trying to transplant trees or shrubs by landscapers, but with frequently less than stellar results.
There are also, can we say, interesting attempts at hair stimulation such as the Theradome helmet, which looks like something from the Ghostbusters movies to us. The theory behind the helmet is that submitting your scalp to something called “nanometer wavelength lasers” tucked into a hat or cap would stimulate hair growth.
But, by using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for hair loss treatment, you can avoid hair transplants and reinvigorate dormant hair follicles and claim or reclaim healthy hair growth. Best of all, PRP uses your own body and blood, versus other treatments, shampoos, lotions and potions that claim to stimulate hair growth using chemicals and other compounds that are not native to you.
And, PRP hair regrowth treatments are much less painful, especially on your wallet, than hair transplantation surgery, as well as being far less invasive and having virtually no side effects.
But, what is PRP for hair loss? How does it work? Who are the best candidates for PRP hair restoration treatment? What is the PRP for hair loss treatment process and are there any potential side effects?
These are all good questions and we’ll do our best to answer them here.
Why Do We Lose Our Hair?
We naturally produce, grow and lose hair throughout our lifetimes and across our entire body, except for our palms, our lips and the soles of our feet. This hair lifecycle is highly active and quick when we are younger, then slowing as we age.
Like many body processes, the hair lifecycle slows with aging. We produce less new hair, but our hair loss continues at roughly the same pace, resulting in what we think of as thinning hair or pattern baldness.
We contribute or even accelerate hair loss by using lots of chemical hair products, including shampoos, conditioners and finishing products including hair spray.
High levels of stress can also increase hair loss. The most common result of high stress levels is large numbers of hair follicles move into a dormant phase, thus not producing new hair growth.
Less common is the urge during high levels of stress to tug or pull on your hair, also known as Trichotillomania. Since our hair is similar to a plant, tugging on our hair over time will likely cause hair loss.
As an aside, “tight” hair styles, including buns and/or tight ponytails also contribute to increased hair loss.
A sudden traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, can also cause hair loss, although this condition is typically temporary.
High stress is also thought to be a contributor to alopecia areata, where small or large patches of hair fall out.
Alopecia areata is a condition where the body’s immune system actually attacks hair follicles. It affects millions of Americans to some degree. Although research is continuing, the medical community doesn’t know exactly what causes the condition, but it is believed that the cause can be internal, such as genetic factors given to someone by both of their parents, or external, such as environmental factors including airborne chemicals.
Some medical conditions, treatments and medications can also cause or increase hair loss.
The list of medications that can cause hair loss is extensive, including birth control, cholesterol reduction medications, cancer drugs, blood pressure control medications, antidepressants, weight loss drugs and any medication used for hormone replacement therapy.
Medical conditions that contribute to hair loss include hypo- or hyperthyroidism, malnutrition, Hodgkin’s Disease, and more. High blood pressure, heavy smoking and/or high cholesterol also contribute to hair loss.
Nutrition can also impact hair loss. Some nutritional causes include:
- Calorie cutting. When we cut calories, often to lose weight, our bodies are working with less calories to support us. Calorie cutting for weight loss doesn’t have to impact your hair, if you choose the right calories to cut and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Not enough protein. Our body needs protein for healthy, strong tissues. This includes our hair. Hair is particularly sensitive to low protein consumption because much of hair is constructed from proteins that need to be replaced.
- Get your vitamins. Low levels of vitamins C, D and E are bad news for hair. Low vitamin D is believed to cause or trigger alopecia and vitamins C and E prevent hair follicle damage as well as supporting iron absorption.
- Eat more iron. Iron helps red blood cells to carry oxygen to our entire body and low iron intake reduces oxygen flow, slowing hair growth and increasing hair shedding.
- Low zinc. Zinc helps our body to process proteins. Since hair is largely made up of proteins, low zinc levels cause lower or slower new hair growth and/or less robust new hair.
There are many temporary causes of hair loss, including pregnancy, but it’s rare that this type of hair loss will become permanent.
What is PRP?
If you recall from middle school biology class, our blood has several components.
One of the components of blood is platelets. Platelets are the first aid kit in our blood stream. When your body senses an injury, platelets are rushed to the scene of the injury because they bind together and form a clot to stop blood from leaving the body. These microscopic cells are shaped like plates when they are not at work and this is where their name comes from.
Plasma, on the other hand, is often known as the “gift of life.” Blood plasma contains nutrients and other important components that keep us healthy. And, platelets also carry the ingredients our bodies need to grow, stay healthy and moderate the aging process.
But, as we age, the amount of proteins and other nutrients in our plasma is reduced. Also reduced is the number of stem cells in our blood. Stem cells are the cells that build a human from a single cell. From our time as a fetus through our early years, stem cells are plentiful because we are all doing so much growing.
Over time, the number of stem cells drops and we age. Science has worked hard to identify and replicate different types of stem cells and stem cell treatments are being used to slow and even reverse aging, disease and pain associated with multiple injuries and illnesses.
Platelet Rich Plasma treatment for hair loss is simply the process of separating plasma that is high in platelets (and stem cells) and injecting in back into the scalp to stimulate hair regrowth in dormant hair follicles and/or slow the number of hair follicles that become dormant in the first place.
What is the PRP Treatment Process?
PRP treatments have several simple steps.
First, we draw blood from your arm. This is similar to when you have blood drawn for laboratory tests at your doctor’s office.
Then, your blood is placed in a centrifuge for several minutes. By spinning the blood at high speed, we are able to separate the blood into 3 main components- platelet poor plasma, platelet rich plasma and red blood cells. The platelet poor plasma and red blood cells are discarded.
We then inject the platelet rich plasma back into your scalp at multiple spots, especially near balding areas.
The treatment typically takes less than a handful of appointments.
Some patients opt for maintenance appointments every six months or so to maintain and/or increase their new hair generation.
Why Does PRP For Hair Loss Work?
Once platelet rich plasma is injected into your scalp, the platelets do exactly what you want them to do, stimulating dormant hair follicles back to life and providing the nutrients (and stem cells) that these follicles need to regrow lost hair.
Male and female patients tend to start seeing slowing hair loss soon after the first treatment and hair growth typically accelerates as you progress through the regrowth treatments, generally beginning a couple or a few weeks after your treatments and accelerating in the 3-6 month period after therapy.
Patients also report that their existing hair grows faster, thicker and healthier during and after PRP injections.
Is PRP for Everyone?
The short answer is that PRP treatment is not for everyone. During your free consultation, we will review your entire medical history and there are certain conditions or illnesses that may exclude PRP injections as an option for you. But, the vast majority of people who visit us for hair therapy can have a successful treatment and results.
Who Are the Best Candidates for PRP for Hair Loss?
Generally speaking, it’s easier to define who isn’t a candidate for PRP than who is, since the majority of men and women medically qualify for hair restoration treatments.
Patients who have the best outcomes from PRP are:
- If you are in the early stages of hair loss (you’re not already completely bald.
- You have thin natural hair
- You have areas of alopecia areata
- You have male or female pattern hair loss
During your free consultation, we’ll also review the hair status of your family members, as this is helpful information in forecasting the level of success that you’ll have from hair therapy. This doesn’t mean that if your father ended up bald that you aren’t a great candidate, since he likely didn’t seek any type of hair restoration. We’ll be more interested in his progression of hair loss over his lifetime. Again, this is only one marker we review. Your overall health, activity level, diet and other factors are equally, if not more important.
There are a few medical conditions that may exclude you from PRP treatment for hair loss:
- If you have an active hormone or autoimmune disease.
- If you have chronic liver disease
- If you are being treated with any type of anti-coagulation therapy, such as Heparin or Warfarin)
- If you have had recent steroid treatments
However, you are unique and we will look at your overall health, the health of your existing hair, lifestyle and other factors. We want you to have the best possible result from your hair restoration treatments.
Are There Side Effects to PRP For Hair Loss Treatment?
Although we’ll make sure that you know all possible side effects from PRP treatment, we can outline a few here.
We maintain sterility during your treatment, but there is a slight chance of skin infection at the sites of your injections.
There is also very slight chance that you could have an allergic reaction to the topical anesthetic or calcification at the injection sites.
These side effects are very rare and we take every precaution to ensure that your therapy for hair growth is comfortable and safe.
What Does PRP for Hair Loss Treatment Cost?
When you attend your free consultation, we’ll review your medical history and lifestyle, make sure that you completely understand the hair restoration process and outline cost and payment options.
The cost of PRP hair loss treatment varies widely on factors including how extensive your hair loss is.
Call us today to schedule your free hair restoration appointment.
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