Platelet-Rich Plasma for Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium

Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium are reversible types of hair-loss induced by inflammation. It has now been shown that these entities improved more with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) than with injected cortisone.

It appears that PRP helps shift sleeping hairs into the growth phase, and also helps keep them there, and does it better than injected cortisone, at least in this study!

As reported online recently in the British Journal of Dermatology, an Italian study randomly assigned 45 patients (mean age, 28) to receive intralesional injections of PRP, triamcinolone acetonide or placebo in one lesion on one half of the scalp. The other half of the scalp was untreated. Patients received three treatments at one-month intervals.

Both treatments led to increased hair growth as compared to placebo as well as greater regrowth than was seen in the untreated area. At six months, none of the PRP patients showed relapse, although 38% in the triamcinolone group had relapsed. At 12 months, significantly more PRP patients had achieved complete remission compared to triamcinolone patients (60% vs 27%).

Although preliminary, this is a great step forward in the treatment of hair loss. We can add this to our palette of therapies including topical hormone and vitamin therapy, medicated shampoos and intralesional cortisone. PRP is safe and has been used without incident in thousands of people for a myriad of ailments.

The process is simple. Several tubes of blood are drawn in the office, and spun down to separate the plasma. This straw-colored fluid is then sterilely transferred to tubes with the activator ingredients. The plasm is then placed into syringes ready for injection. No anesthesia is needed as there is just the pinch of the needle. The whole process typically takes under an hour. Three monthly sessions recommended; it is then done at 3m intervals for an additional 2 sessions.

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