Non Invasive Treatments For Hair Loss
PRP for Hair Loss
The Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) commonly used in hair restoration is “autologous,” meaning that it is derived from the patient’s own blood. To obtain PRP, a patient’s blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the solid from liquid components and platelet activators, such as thrombin, calcium chloride and sometimes collagen, are added. The separated “solid” portion of the blood is PRP (platelet rich plasma).
There are commercially available systems for PRP hair loss treatment. These include: Cydomedix, Emcyte Pure PRP, Angel system, and Harvest system. PRP is sometimes combined with A-Cell, although the benefit of this combination is speculative.
PRP is then placed into a syringe and reintroduced into the treatment site i.e., either the surgical site or an area of hair loss. PRP be can sprayed onto a recipient area during and after a hair transplant, laid into the donor incision, or injected directly into a balding scalp. Prior to injecting PRP, doctors often create a ring-block of local anesthesia with 1% lidocaine.
When used to stimulate hair growth most doctors schedule injections at intervals of 1 to 9 months. Some improvement (in reversing miniaturization) can be expected in the first 2-6 months. The treatments must be continued periodically to maintain any improvement.
Mechanism of Action
For the medical treatment of hair loss, practitioners use PRP to stimulate the growth of follicles, thereby reversing the hair miniaturization seen in androgenetic alopecia (common baldness).
It is conjectured that the introduction of platelets and white blood cells through platelet rich plasma (PRP) can amplify the body’s naturally-occurring wound healing mechanism. It is also proposed that PRP can actually stimulate the stem cells (dermal papilla) of the newly transplanted hair follicles. Other doctors feel that during a hair transplant procedure, the body’s normal production of bioactive growth factors are optimal for healing and subsequent growth and that PRP for hair loss gives no additional benefit.
What are the Indications for PRP for Hair Loss?
PRP is used in many areas of medicine, including the acceleration of healing of tendon injuries, the treatment of osteoarthritis, in some aspects of dental work (i.e. jaw reconstruction), and in cardiovascular medicine. The concentrated form of plasma has been shown to accelerate wound healing and tissue repair and, thus, could potentially benefit hair restoration procedures.
In hair transplantation, PRP can be injected into or sprayed on the recipient site area to, theoretically, stimulate the healing of the transplanted grafts and into the donor area to facilitate healing of the donor incision and potentially minimize scar formation.
In the medical treatment of male and female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), PRP can be injected into the balding scalp to potentially stimulate thin (miniaturized) hair to grow into thicker (terminal) hairs. Patients with thinning, but not totally bald, areas would be the best candidates.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) in hair restoration utilizes cool lasers to stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss. LLLT is based on the scientific principle of photo-biotherapy. Photo-biotherapy occurs when laser light is absorbed by cells and stimulates cell metabolism and protein synthesis. Although the exact mechanism by which laser light promotes hair growth is still unknown, it appears to stimulate the follicles on the scalp by increasing energy production and by reversing miniaturization (the process leading to thicker hair shafts and a fuller look).
Laser light is in the visible red light spectrum and is generated in a laser diode. The energy level is far below that of laser beams that cut or burn tissue. The low-level red laser light has a very low absorption rate in human tissue making it safe for use in the treatment of hair loss.
Low energy lasers have been used for over thirty years to accelerate healing after wounds or burns and to reduce pain. In 1992, Pontinen published the first paper discussing its possible use in promoting hair growth. Since then there has been much progress is defining the exact parameters necessary to accomplish this. In 2007, the FDA cleared for marketing the use of low-level lasers for the treatment of androgenetic hair loss in men. This clearance was based on the device’s safety, and not on its effectiveness in treating hair loss.
Recent studies have shown that Low Level Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) appears about equal to the benefits of hair loss medications used over the short term in both men and women, although the long-term benefits are less clear. The use of LLLT should be of particular interest to women in whom medical treatment and surgical options may be limited.