PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma and this is an injection based procedure that uses a person’s own blood to stimulate tissue rejuvenation. PRP is also known by other names such as Autologous Platelet Concentrate and Plasma Rich Growth Factors
PRP was first used in 1987 and it has become a long established technique in the treatment of wounds, burns, tendon and muscle injuries. Over the last 10 years PRP has become increasingly popular as a cosmetic procedure to help regenerate and revitalise sun damaged and ageing skin.
How PRP Works
It is well known that the body has a great capacity to heal itself, for example if someone sustains a cut or tears a ligament or tendon. One of the key mechanisms in the body’s natural healing process is through the action of platelets in the blood. Platelets are cells in the blood, that as well as being important for blood clotting, also contain many natural growth factors which can stimulate and regenerate damaged tissue. Normal blood contains approximately 6% platelets, but PRP contains over 90% platelets and it is this super rich concentration of platelets and growth factors in PRP that provides the therapeutic effect.
For skin rejuvenation PRP works by stimulating the body to produce more of the important building blocks for the skin. The platelet growth factors in PRP help initiate tissue rejuvenation by various mechanisms such as stimulating new collagen production, inducing stem cell division and stimulating the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
The Cosmetic Uses for PRP
PRP is suitable for fine lines and wrinkles, dull and dry skin, and can improve overall skin texture and tone. PRP can diminish and improve the appearance of scars. PRP skin treatments are particularly good for improving skin quality and wrinkles around the eyes, chest, neck and backs of hands.
As well as being an effective standalone rejuvenation technique, PRP can be used to complement many other cosmetic procedures such as laser, wrinkle injections and dermal fillers.
An increasing number of surgeons are also using PRP after surgery to improve healing and reduce scar formation. Certain types of hair loss (alopecia) can also be improved with PRP.
The Advantages of PRP Treatments
The benefits of PRP are that it is minimally invasive, safe, has a short recovery time, with natural looking results and requires no general anesthesia.
Some people choose PRP as a natural treatment option and it can be the treatment of choice in situations where a patient has a high risk of allergic reaction to other cosmetic treatments.
Can Anyone Get PRP?
PRP used for skin rejuvenation is safe for most individuals however PRP is not suitable in patients with platelet or clotting disorders (e.g. Platelet Dysfunction Syndrome, ITP) and in the presence of other severe medical conditions (e.g. autoimmune diseases, chronic infections, cancer, chemotherapy). PRP is also not suitable for patients taking anticoagulation or antiplatelet medications (e.g. Aspirin, Warfarin, Dipyridamole, Clopidogril).
Advanced skin wrinkling and severe scarring cannot be reversed with PRP. Patients who smoke cigarettes or are heavy drinkers do not do as well with PRP as their platelets are usually not as healthy. Systemic use of corticosteroids within 2 weeks of treatment and a recent fever or illness can also reduce the effectiveness of PRP.
What does a PRP treatment Involve?
PRP is a very straightforward procedure for the patient. It first involves taking a small amount of blood (about 20mls) from a patient’s arm (very like a blood test sample is taken). This blood is then immediately spun in a special centrifuge machine which separates the blood into various components. The heavier cells such as red blood cells collect at the bottom of the tube and the plasma that contains the platelets are left at the top of the tube. This platelet-rich plasma portion can then be separated and activated with a small amount of calcium to allow the release of growth factors in the platelets.
The PRP is then ready for use and depending on the indication it can be applied as;
- Multiple small superficial injections.
- Deep injections using a special needle called a cannula.
- Topically on surface of the skin in combination with dermal needling.
Are there any disadvantages or side effects from PRP treatments?
PRP is “autologous” meaning that it comes from a patient’s own body and as a patient’s own blood is being used it is considered a very low risk procedure with no risk of allergy or disease transmission from the blood. The injections that are used are very fine and well tolerated but for more sensitive areas like around the eyes or for patients with sensitive skin numbing cream can be used. After treatment the skin may be slightly red in the first 24 hours. Some bruising and swelling can occur after injection and may last several days.
Who performs the PRP treatment?
All of our PRP treatments are performed by experienced medical staff in our medical clinic. The treatment typically takes about 30-45 minutes.
Before your treatment
To minimise the risk of bruising it is recommended that 10 days before treatment patients avoid Aspirin and 1 week before treatment avoid non steroidal Anti inflammatories ( eg Nurofen, Voltaren, Naproxen) and certain supplements (especially Garlic, Ginseng, Glucosamine, Fish Oils, Vitamin E).
For patients at higher risk of bruising we would recommend taking Arnica (tablet or spray) on the morning of treatment. We also recommend being well hydrated by drinking water on the morning of the procedure and not doing a strenuous workout on the day of treatment.
How many PRP treatments are needed?
For the best results with PRP skin rejuvenation a series of 3 treatments spaced a minimum of 4 weeks apart are required. Results usually start to be seen 2-3 weeks after PRP but optimal results can take 3-6 months for improvement in skin texture and tone. The long term results with PRP depend on factors such as age, general health and skin condition and a follow up maintenance treatment once a year can help boost and maintain results.