Hair Restoration with Platelet Rich Plasma.
You may have heard of PRP for arthritis, sports injuries or trigger points. But did you know that the same healing growth factors also stimulate hair follicle activity? Platelet rich plasma is the part of the blood after the red blood cells have been spun off. Platelets are the small blood cell that rushes to a site of injury. It helps form a clot but then releases its growth factors to heal the injury, whether that be knitting the skin back together, remodeling damaged tissue, or forming new tissue. Numerous proteins are contained in the alpha-granules of platelets, including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), platelet factor interleukin (IL), platelet-derived angiogenesis factor (PDAF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulin-like growth factor IGF and fibronectin.
Hair growth has three cycles. Anagen (growth phase), catagen (follicle renewal), and telogen (hair shedding). 70-85% of hair follicles are in anagen at any given time. Adult skin is not able to make new follicles, current follicles shrink and the catagen phase does not result in as efficient renewal. If there are nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune complications, hormonal/thyroid imbalances or other factors, this further compounds shrinking follicles and thinning hair. However, these follicles are still alive! PRP can stimulate these follicles and revert them to the anagen phase resulting in thicker hair.
In office, the patient’s blood is drawn and spun down to separate the plasma rich platelets (PRP) from the other blood components. This PRP liquid is then injected into the patient’s scalp using a series of injections into the areas of hair loss. This may sound scary but it is actually not terrible. The needle used is very tiny and with our new methods being perfected, the injection solution is less painful. Once the treatment is over, there is usually zero to minimal discomfort.
For best results, consistency is key. Treatments are typically once a month for three to four months and then every three to six months thereafter for maintenance and re-stimulation. Results are usually seen in two to three months. A decrease in shedding is initially seen, followed by early regrowth (thickening) and lengthening. Significant change is usually evident and remarkable by 4-6 months.
PRP can be a stand alone hair rejuvenation treatment or combined with other modalites. Some that I highly recommend are:
Folinic acid: Folinic acid is a molecule slightly different than folate. Folinic acid is crucial for the synthesis and repair of DNA bases. Like the skin and the lining of the intestines, hair turns over very rapidly and has large quantities of DNA. Folinic acid deficiency results in poor repair of these cells. At appropriate doses, 800 mcg 1-2x/day, folinic acid can encourage hair growth. Results are usually seen in 1-3 months.
MSM: methylsulfonylmethane is a sulfur rich compound that has been found in research to elongate the anagen phase of hair growth as well as create stronger molecular bonds. Start with 1000mg twice daily and increase by 1000mg every week until a steady dose of 4000-6000mg/day in divided doses is reached. If indigestion occurs, lower the dose and wean up slower.
Maximizer: Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA) with biotin. ch-OSA nourishes proteins by activating enzymes used by collagen-generating cells to make collagen. In one research study, 10 mg/d of silicon as ch-OSA for nine months improved hair tensile strength including elasticity and break load and resulted in thicker hair. As a bonus, ch-OSA has also been found to reduces wrinkles, strengthens nails, support healthy bone mineral density, support bone flexibility, and promote connective tissue formation for healthy joints. One capsule twice daily.
Glutathione, carnitine, taurine, curcumin, coQ10, and pterosilbene are also very important.
Dr Kam Tecaya is a naturopathic physician practicing at NatureMedica Clinic in Tucson Arizona. She has a passion for utilizing the body’s ability to heal itself given the right circumstances. She graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and trained as an expert in natural medicine. She utilizes functional medicine testing to discover the root cause of illness and natural treatment modalities to restore health and balance. She uses many modalities including nutrient therapy, IV therapy, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, body-mind techniques, biopuncture, and regenerative therapies like PRP.