PRP, or platelet rich plasma, is a huge topic in the news right now. It’s being used for everything from orthopedic surgery to treatments for baldness to facial rejuvenation. But does PRP work?
What is PRP?
PRP is a component of your blood. So basically your doctor draws some blood, then spins down the blood in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. Platelets are the part of your blood that causes blood to clot. They also contain numerous growth factors which can affect your tissue’s ability to heal.
What is PRP being used for?
PRP is used in numerous field. It’s been used:
- to help bones, tendons and joints heal
- in heart surgery to prevent sternal wound infections
- to help wounds heal
- treating hair loss
- for facial rejuvenation (i.e. to make skin look younger)
If PRP is already being used so much, what’s the issue?
The primary issue is that there isn’t data to support all the different ways PRP is being used. It can be prepared several different ways, and the preparations are different. Without a standard way to separate out the platelets and growth factors, it is difficult to evaluate effectiveness in different treatments. Is the PRP actually not working, or is it just the particular way it was prepared?
In addition, PRP is a cash cow. It’s not covered by insurance, but patients are willing to pay for it. This means some unethical practitioners are quick to jump on board and add it to their practices as a way to bring in money.
So does PRP work?
Maybe. We don’t have a lot of objective data at this time. In addition to being prepared in different ways, PRP can also be applied different ways. For example, in the face PRP can be injected, applied topically after microneedling, or even injected mixed with fat or fillers. And there isn’t any research on which treatment is most effective. As long as the blood is being treated with good sterile technique, PRP is safe. So the only thing at risk is your pocketbook. If you’re interested in getting a PRP treatment to look younger, here are some tips to avoid problems:
- Look for a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, not simply a cosmetic surgeon.
- If the claims sound to good to be true, they probably are.
- Read more at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website.
Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.org.