PRP therapy wasn’t a buzz phrase a few years ago, but with celebrities like Kim Kardashian heralding the benefits of this process for anti-aging, more and more people are wondering just what PRP therapy is.
Also known as the “blood facial,” PRP therapy involves the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP), or blood plasma, as a means of promoting tissue repair and regeneration.
Originally used in the hospital setting as a means of wound healing, PRP therapy slowly made its way into the private practice use as athletes, particularly football players, began using it to treat stubborn injuries like tennis elbow and tendonitis. The plasma, injected into injured parts of the body, stimulates the healing process and can significantly reduce healing time even for ligaments.
“It’s a better option for problems that don’t have a great solution — it’s nonsurgical and uses the body’s own cells to help it heal,” Dr. Allan Mishra, an assistant professor of orthopedics at Stanford University Medical Center and one of the primary researchers in the field, told the New York Times back in 2009 when PRP therapy really started taking off.
“I think it’s fair to say that platelet rich plasma has the potential to revolutionize not just sports medicine but all of orthopedics. It needs a lot more study, but we are obligated to pursue this.”
Not long after its athletic application, PRP therapy made its way into the cosmetic world.
How can PRP therapy be used for anti-aging?
The accelerated healing properties are why PRP has an application in anti-aging.
According to the New York City Anti Aging Clinic, these injections can help slow down the physical aging process the same way they help promote wound healing elsewhere in the body.
By injecting platelet rich plasma into areas like the cheeks, jaw, neckline, hands, or scalp, the body is sent into regeneration mode.
Platelets are what attracts stem cells to damaged areas of the body to start rebuilding tissue, and by injecting platelets directly into a site, the healing process not only speeds up, but has an exaggerated response.
As we age, certain aspects of our bodies start to degrade, like production of collagen and elastin, two substances responsible for keeping skin firm. PRP therapy can help collagen and elastin rebuild, and some evidence suggests it can promote hair growth if injected into the scalp.
Is PRP therapy complicated?
PRP therapy is considered simple and safe compared to other cosmetic procedures since it uses the individual’s own blood to create PRP injections.
Prior to the injection process, blood is drawn from the patient so it can be spun down in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets. This can be done same day and only takes 15-20 minutes.
Once the injections are prepared they can be used immediately, and the entire process only takes another 20 minutes, give or take, depending on how many areas are being treated.
There are minimal reaction risks since the plasma comes directly from the patient, though mild discomfort from both the needles and the plasma can be expected initially.
Often, one injection can create a permanent, visible difference, though some individuals opt to have repeat therapy every four to six weeks.
Though considered a safe procedure, individuals who have bleeding disorders are not candidates for PRP therapy as it does require a substantial amount of blood to be drawn for preparation.