This is our first installment of “The Naked Truth.” Here we will talk about the latest and most popular treatments, procedures and technologies. This installment’s focus: Platelet-Rich Plasma
Platelet-Rich Plasma or “PRP” has become a popular remedy for just about any condition. Peyton Manning, Hines Ward and many other athletes have undergone PRP treatment to provide speedy recovery from injuries. In the face, PRP treatments have been called the Vampire Facelift (see Kim Kardashian), Weekend Facelift and PRP Facelift.
PRP treatment begins with a blood draw from your arm. The blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate it into its components. This includes a clear-yellow layer of plasma that is rich in platelets (get it? platelet-rich plasma). The clear layer is drawn off from the rest and injected into the face to produce…something?
The theory behind PRP is that you are injecting “growth factor” hormones into the skin. Growth factors are released by the platelets and are found in higher amount in the serum. These growth factors, in turn, are said to cause rejuvenation of the skin, more collagen, less inflammation, less wrinkles, less swelling during surgery, faster healing after surgery, more hair growth, less redness, etc.
Unfortunately, whenever facial PRP studies are published in medical journals the findings are pretty sketchy. Studies are often severely flawed in their design or show no real benefit. For example, the use of PRP for acne scars has been looked at scientifically. In acne scar treatment, the area is first covered with extensive microneedling. PRP is then rubbed on the skin. As you might imagine, microneedling makes a whole bunch of natural PRP all on its own (because the skin has just been pricked a hundred times!). It’s hard to tease out what (if any) extra affect the rubbed-on PRP might have.
Others have looked at PRP’s ability to simultaneously build collagen and reduce redness (btw, it should do one or the other, not both), reduce wrinkles and aging, increase hair growth in hair restoration and many other indications. At this point, there are no “definitive” study that would put controversy to rest.
The concept of using PRP to provide growth factors is intriguing. PRP treatment is innocuous and it uses your own tissues. In practice, there may be little actual effect with current methods. While it almost certainly doesn’t work for every reason that its marketed for, there still may be conditions where it could help. It may be worthwhile to try to boost PRP processing methods and protocols so that one day clear and obvious improvements in the skin can be observed.