Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and many other high profile athletes have benefited from an unusual therapy that reduces pain and speeds up healing.
Whether it’s a sprained knee, pulled hamstring or chronic tendon injury, it’s a way of harnessing the body’s own healing power to allow sports stars to return to competition more quickly.
But its use isn’t limited to pain and injury. It’s producing remarkable results in the regrowing thin hair and restoring youthfulness to aging skin.
Angelina Jolie reportedly used the treatment to boost collagen and smooth out wrinkles.
It’s called Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PLP).
Platelets, which help blood to clot, are one of the four main components of blood, along with red cells, white cells and plasma. But in addition to clotting factors, platelets also contain large numbers of proteins called growth factors. These are important for tissue repair and regeneration and are the cornerstone of PLP therapy.
PLP involves drawing blood from a patient and separating the platelets from the rest of the blood components by spinning the blood in a centrifuge. This more concentrated solution of platelets is suspended in the plasma (the liquid portion of blood) and injected back into the patient at the desired location.
PLP helps to Regrow Hair
Eleven patients who achieved poor results taking the hair growth drugs minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Proscar) received four PLP injections into the scalp over a period of eight weeks.
As a result, they saw hair thickness increase by 31%. At the start of the study, ten hairs fell loose when the researchers pulled gently on the scalp. By the end of the study nine participants out of the eleven lost no hairs on the pull test.1
But can PLP really count on getting similar results? That’s the question a group of researchers from Finland and Spain asked.
To find out, they looked at six previous medical studies involving 177 patients with androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss in men and women. Overall, the results of these human trials showed a significantly greater number of hairs on the scalp and increased hair thickness.2
Canadian researchers also carried out their own investigation looking at 13 trials. Again, they confirmed an improvement and described PLP therapy as “promising.”3
Smoothes Wrinkles, Too
When Kim Kardashian posted pictures of her own PLP treatment, some wit nicknamed it “the vampire facial,” apparently because it involves numerous small injections in the face that create unattractive wounds for a short time.
The platelet injections are designed to stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin fibers to make the skin look smoother and clearer.
Researchers from Turkey tested the procedure on ten volunteers, concluding it to be “an effective procedure for facial skin rejuvenation.”4
A research group from Egypt published their findings on a single injection of PLP on wrinkles in March, 2017.
Twenty people with different types of wrinkles were included. They were assessed before and again two months after the treatment. A wrinkle measurement scale showed an improvement of more than one-fourth.
The most pronounced benefits were seen in the nasolabial folds (smile lines) that run between the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth.They concluded that PRP is “capable of rejuvenating the face and producing a significant correction of wrinkles…”5
Not only is PLP becoming more widely used as a non-surgical way to relieve pain and to treat a variety of acute and chronic injuries, but cosmetic procedures have also grown in popularity with plastic surgeons.
As more celebrities reveal they’ve tried it, no doubt it will grow even more strongly with the public too.
If you want to know more, here are some resources for finding and evaluating a PRP doctor:
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