Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is one of the greatest advances of modern medicine and one of the most simply elegant solutions to many of the complex problems that doctors and other aesthetic technicians are faced with. It sounds like science fiction and some of the results seem too good to be true. So what is it, anyway? How does it work? And what can it be used for?
What Is Platelet Rich Plasma
Used for a plethora of medical and cosmetic purposes, this is a processed blood byproduct developed from a person’s own blood. As described by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
Although blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets — and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual.
To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
That blood is then used for whatever therapeutic purpose the clinician needs it for, whether healing wounds or refreshing and rejuvenating, as in the case of skin.
How Does PRP Work
Basically, PRP works because they have a number of proteins that are critical to the reconstruction, or healing, of human tissue. When they are introduced back into a person’s body they begin to work very quickly.
In more scientific terms:
Platelets are cytoplasmic fragments of megakaryocytes, formed in the marrow and approximately 2 μm in diameter. They contain more than 30 bioactive proteins, many of which have a fundamental role in hemostasis or tissue healing.
Seven fundamental protein growth factors that are actively secreted by platelet initiate all wound healing process. PRP also includes three proteins in blood known to act as cell adhesion molecules: Fibrin, fibronectin and vitronectin.
Activation causes the granules present in platelets to fuse to its cell membrane (also called degranulation) where the secretory proteins (e.g. PDGF, TGF-β etc.) are transformed to a bioactive state by the addition of histones and carbohydrate side chains. The active proteins are then secreted, binding to transmembrane receptors of target cells, which include mesenchymal stem cells, osteoblasts, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epidermal cells. These agonists bound transmembrane receptors then activate an intracellular signal protein that causes the expression of a gene sequence that directs cellular proliferation, matrix formation, osteoid production, collagen synthesis etc. thus provoking tissue repair and tissue regeneration.
The active secretion of these growth factors by platelets begins within 10 min after activation, with more than 95% of the pre-synthesized growth factors secreted within 1 hour. (Source)
As technology has advanced, scientists have also discovered the efficacy of platelet rich fibrins (PRF). Very similar to PRP’s in terms of production and application, PRF is actually longer lasting and stronger. Fibrin, however, is a scaffold in the biology of the body that automatically responds to injuries. Platelets will bind to a fibrin scaffold. This next generation technology utilizes the platelets, but instead combines them with a “white blood-cell rich fibrin scaffold” that can be used in plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures. This helps to actually “fill in facial folds, help fat cells survive better and promote healing after a facelift.” (Source). Combining PRP and PRF is going to make the difference to a lot of people.
PRP In Plastic and Cosmetic Procedures
Used in many surgical and medical procedures, PRP along with PRF are enormously useful in the cosmetic and aesthetic medical practices. Some of the more popular procedures are the following:
- Hair Loss. Injected into the scalp, this has been shown to help hair grow and prevent hair loss. A study in 2014 has shown that these injections can help to treat androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). (Source).
- Skin Rejuvenation. Injected under the dermis to stimulate collagen production and cell growth, this “vampire facial” is beloved by many celebrities and dermatologists alike. (Source).
“Based on the specificity for facial rejuvenation, including cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and cell migration aiming at remodeling of the ECM. Wound healing models have provided interesting information with regard to the pathophysiology of photoaging, indicating that there are several parallel mechanisms between pathways involved in wound healing and those necessary for skin rejuvenation. Biological and biochemical processes are involved in wound formation which are similar to the required changes to reverse the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging” (Source).
- Wound healing. When you have a patient that has suffered a trauma, or you are doing surgery, and want to help them recover faster, PRP therapy can be used.
More on PRP and PRF will be the subject of some of talks at SCALE 2019 Music City. We look forward to seeing you there.