Can I use platelet-rich plasma to treat hair loss?

A close-up of a man touching his balding head

Injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be used to treat a variety of conditions, from pain relief to cosmetic procedures. If you’re experiencing hair loss, PRP may be able to help.

What is platelet-rich plasma therapy?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is the portion of plasma derived from whole blood, with higher platelet concentration compared to the baseline. Within the platelets are growth factors that have many applications and indications.

The general process involves the removal of whole blood (depending on the kit that is being used, this may require 10-104 milliliters of whole blood), then mixing it with an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting and to prevent platelet activation before use. That blood is spun using a centrifuge. This allows for the separation of the blood and cellular products.

PRP is then removed and used accordingly, while the other products are discarded.

How is PRP most commonly used?

PRP is used for a multitude of medical treatments. In dermatology, we primarily use it for hair loss disorders (androgenetic alopecia).

How does PRP help treat hair loss?

PRP may help promote increased blood flow to sites and blood vessel development. It can also help hair follicle turnover, reverse hair follicle miniaturization, and may help stimulate follicular stem cells, all of which lead to improvement of hair growth.

There is generally an induction phase which consists of three monthly treatments followed by maintenance treatments every three to six months.

Are there side effects I should be aware of?

PRP for hair loss is generally safe, as it uses the patient's own blood products and injects them back into the same person. Potential side effects are pain, infection, soft tissue injury, bruising and bleeding.

People with the following aren’t ideal candidates for PRP:

  • Low platelets
  • Systemic diseases that alter the function of normal platelets
  • Infections
  • Active skin lesions around areas of injection
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Use of blood thinners

Are PRP injections painful?

The removal process is generally not painful, but the injection process, depending on the site, can be painful. This pain can be reduced by applying topical analgesics prior to injections or the use of distraction techniques (applying vibrations to sites during the procedure). You can also use ice or take a pain reliever after the procedure (but avoid NSAIDS).

Who would I contact to learn if this is an option for me?

You can contact the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Department of Dermatology at 614-293-1707.

Are there other cosmetic uses for PRP?

There have been studies where PRP has been used in the treatment of vitiligo, melasma, skin rejuvenation (wrinkles, skin atrophy, scar treatment, photo aging), wound care, soft tissue augmentation and enhanced fat grafting.

Does insurance typically cover PRP for hair loss?

Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t usually cover PRP for this use.

Are the results permanent?

Maintenance therapy is required after the induction phase. PRP has been shown to help with hair transplant survival by pretreating areas prior to harvesting.

Worried about your skin?

Ohio State's dermatology team provides comprehensive care backed by one of the nation's leading academic health centers.

Expert care starts here


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