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Encouraging results: Your own plasma may help stop hair loss

Staff Writer |
Going bald may seem to be a fact of life for many men and women as they age, but there are new treatments that could make a difference.

While there have been some longtime recommended treatments for hereditary hair loss like Rogaine and Propecia, there haven’t been any major breakthroughs in recent years.

Now more dermatologists are offering a new type of procedure that uses a person’s own blood.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is used to accelerate healing in a wide range of applications, from dentistry to orthopedics.

Research on the therapy remains in the early stages, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved it yet for hair loss. But many dermatologists say they think the treatment can be beneficial.

PRP therapy involves drawing a person’s own blood and putting it into a centrifuge that separates red blood cells from the plasma. The plasma, which contains growth factors, is then injected back into the person.

When PRP therapy is used for hair loss treatment, the plasma is injected into the person’s hair follicles. It involves only minimal discomfort and can take about 10 minutes.

After the first treatment, people have injections monthly for three months, then once every three to six months. Within a few months of treatment, they can notice less hair loss. Soon after, they may experience an increase in thickness or regrowth.

Insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, which can cost around $1,000 per treatment, according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist based in New York City.

PRP therapy is cleared by the FDA for use in orthopedics, but it’s considered off-label for skin and hair procedures, says Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer, a California-based dermatologist who’s published research on PRP therapy for hair loss.

The devices that separate cells from plasma are FDA-approved, notes Dr. Neil Sadick,a dermatologist from New York City.

Studies have found that people with hereditary hair loss or male or female pattern baldness can potentially curb or even regrow some hair after PRP injections.

A small study published in September 2018 with 39 participants found that those who had a total of four PRP injections had much better hair density and hair thickness than those who had two injections over a six-month period.

Other small studies have shown the procedure has had high success rates in people with certain types of hair loss, namely those who experience baldness or hereditary hair thinning.

This doesn’t mean that if you’re almost completely bald you should try PRP therapy.

The ideal candidates for PRP therapy are people who have hair that’s present but thinning, Zeichner says.

“PRP is best for people who have mild to moderate hair thinning,” he said. “It won’t regrow a full head of hair if you’re already bald.”

Sadick says that both men and women respond well to the treatment, particularly those with genetic hair loss by the temples or crown.

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