Thinning hair or pattern baldness are conditions that affect both men and women. While the loss is not usually a result of a serious medical condition, the psychological impact of can be quite significant. Many men and women see their hair as their crowning glory and when it’s no longer there, it can make them very self-conscious about their appearance. Until recently, the only effective methods of hair restoration involved surgical transplantation of hair from one area of the scalp to another. However, there is a revolutionary nonsurgical option now offered at Barrett Plastic Surgery, offering excellent results to the right patients without incisions or downtime.
PRP hair restoration is a method of restoring hair naturally using your own growth factors found in your blood supply. PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, and it is a part of the blood that is rich in restorative substances. When these platelets are administered to areas of the scalp that have suffered thinning or baldness, they can jumpstart dormant follicles, stimulating them to begin producing hair once again.
Explaining Hair Loss
Hair loss is a relatively common problem for both genders. As many as 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from this issue, according to The Hair Society. By the time we hit our 80s, up to 70 percent of men and 80 percent of women will experience some degree of hair loss. While there may be some comfort in knowing you are not alone in your thinning or balding patterns, the changes can still cause you significant embarrassment and loss of self-confidence over the years.
Causes of Hair Loss
There are a variety of reasons why hair loss might occur. The most common is known as hereditary hair loss, which is also known as androgenetic alopecia. Unfortunately, this condition can be attributed to your genetic makeup, which means if your mother or father lost hair, you are more likely to as well. The early sign of androgenetic alopecia in men is a receding hairline. Women often notice its onset with a widening part. In either case, it is generally hormone levels that lead to the shrinking of the hair follicles on the scalp, rendering them unable to grow new hair over time.
Another cause of hair loss, which may be effectively treated by PRP, is alopecia areata. This autoimmune disorder affects the skin and usually leads to bald patches on the scalp. It affects up to 6.8 million men and women in the U.S., according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Although the hair loss occurs, the follicles remain active and the condition can reverse at any time. When it does not, treatment can help to restore hair growth and cover the bald patches.
Some hair loss culprits cannot be addressed through PRP. Loss caused by medical conditions may require treatment of the condition before hair restoration can be considered. In some cases, it might not be a possibility even if the disorder is properly addressed. Treatment for some diseases like cancer can also lead to hair loss. This situation is typically temporary, and patients will see restoration when the treatment is completed. However, it can be stressful for sufferers when it occurs.
Other variables that lead to hair loss might include hormonal fluctuations (such as those women experience during pregnancy 9or menopause), stress or massive weight loss. In most cases, these causes are also temporary and will reverse once the hormones return to their proper levels or the stress is effectively managed. PRP hair restoration is not typically advised in these situations unless they do not resolve on their own over time.
What is PRP?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma and it is a component in our blood. Our blood Is made of red blood cells and plasma, which includes both white blood cells and platelets. The platelets contain growth factors that work with the body to regenerate cells and assist with the natural healing process. When platelets are injected into the scalp, as they are during PRP hair restoration treatments, the growth factors stimulate dormant follicles to grow hair once again. Once the follicle is active, the theory is that it will continue to produce hair over an extended period.
While PRP is relatively new to the hair treatment realm, the process has been used for many years in other ways. For the past two decades, PRP has been used to promote skin healing after various injuries. PRP is also commonly used by orthopedic specialists to heal challenging injuries in the joints and is showing great promise in relieving the painful symptoms of a common arthritic condition known as osteoarthritis. It has recently been introduced for cosmetic purposes, as a natural means of skin rejuvenation when delivered to the deeper dermal structure. PRP has a history of safety and has already demonstrated the ability to produce superior results in both medical and cosmetic procedures for the right patient.
Is PRP Hair Restoration Right for You?
PRP hair restoration is appropriate for both men and women with a variety of skin types and conditions. However, this treatment is not the ideal choice for everyone. The best candidates tend to fall into the following categories:
- Current hair loss is still in the early stages
- Hair loss is still confined to smaller areas of the scalp
- Hair follicles are still functioning but “weak”
- Hair loss is caused by alopecia areata
PRP hair restoration can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or done after hair transplant surgery to enhance the results. People will sometimes request this procedure to hide the scars left behind after hair transplantation or to improve results when the original transplantation procedure did not go as planned. Dr. Barrett will evaluate your situation and diagnose the cause of your hair loss before determining whether PRP hair restoration might meet your expectations and goals.
Why Your Choice of Plastic Surgeon Matters
PRP hair restoration can provide significant improvement in hair growth for the right patients, but your choice of doctor will play a major role in the success of your procedure. Dr. Barrett is experienced in using PRP for a variety of treatments, including scar reduction, skin rejuvenation and hair restoration. Because he has worked extensively with this technique, he is uniquely qualified to handle your PRP hair restoration. Dr. Barrett is also known for the time he takes with each patient to assess their situation and discuss their aesthetic goals. You will feel comfortable and well-cared for from the first visit to our office as he will be sure to answer all your questions about your procedure.
Benefits of PRP Hair Restoration
Although PRP is still a relative newcomer on the hair restoration scene, it is already proving to offer advantages not seen with other methods of addressing thinning hair or pattern baldness. There are numerous reasons to consider PRP hair restoration over traditional hair treatments:
- Procedure is noninvasive and requires no downtime afterward
- No incisions mean no scarring is left behind
- Treatment uses your own blood so no risk of an allergic reaction
- No side effects that are sometimes seen with topical medications
- Growth factors naturally stimulate the follicles to become active once again
- Results can be long-lasting for many patients
Preparing for Your Procedure
Although the PRP process is noninvasive, there are steps you can take before your treatment to improve your odds of a successful procedure. Dr. Barrett may recommend the following:
- Stop taking blood thinning medications a few days before your procedure to prevent excessive bleeding
- Talk to Dr. Barrett about supplements like vitamin E or St. John’s wort, since they can have a similar effect to blood-thinners
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol for at least three days before treatment as they can hinder healthy blood flow
- Increase your fluid intake for a day or two before your procedure and eat before your session since you will be having blood drawn as part of the process
- If you are going to color your hair, do so at least three days before your procedure
- Shampoo your hair either the day of treatment or the day before
You may have other instructions based on your unique situation. The better you follow these directions, the more likely you will be to have positive results.
PRP hair restoration is a multi-step process that can be performed in a single session in our office. Each treatment involves the following steps:
- Dr. Barrett draws a bit of blood from your arm – no more than you would typically have with any other blood draw
- The drawn blood is placed into a centrifuge where it is separated into three parts; red blood cells, platelet-poor plasma and platelet-rich plasma
- The platelet-rich plasma is collected into syringes and injected into the scalp wherever there is poor hair growth
This entire procedure can be performed using a topical anesthetic on the scalp to ensure your comfort during the injection process. Dr. Barrett will strategically place the needle points where they will have the greatest effect. Most PRP hair restoration treatments take about one hour to complete.
Microneedling is a supplemental procedure that can accompany PRP hair restoration. Also known as collagen induction therapy, this minimally-invasive and comfortable procedure is designed to combat signs of aging. During this procedure, we use a special tool to create micro-injuries in the scalp. These tiny channels stimulate the scalp to regenerate more cells while upping your levels of collagen and elastin. These effects work synergistically to bring about healthier follicles and skin.
After PRP Hair Restoration
You should not experience much discomfort during or after your PRP treatment. Most patients can return to their regular activities right away, without any signs they just had a hair restoration procedure performed. While the healing process is relatively quick, the results will take a bit longer to become evident. It may take a few months before you begin to notice your hair start to grow once again.
While patients will often see improvement after their first PRP treatment, more significant results will usually take a series of sessions. An optimal outcome will typically require at least three treatments, scheduled four to six weeks apart, with maintenance sessions scheduled every four to six months to maintain positive hair growth. Skin will continue to improve over the next six to 12 months after your last treatment. Dr. Barrett will provide you with a list of necessary precautions and a proper skin care regimen to ensure the best possible results.
Naturally Fuller Hair
PRP hair restoration is the first treatment of its kind that actually works with the natural processes of the body to grow thicker, healthier hair. This procedure has helped both men and women that have experienced hair loss due to a variety of circumstances. With extensive experience in PRP treatments, Dr. Barrett has the knowledge and experience to help you determine the cause of your hair loss and find treatment options that are likely to work for you. To learn more about the revolutionary PRP hair restoration treatment, contact Barrett Plastic Surgery today at 310-598-2648.