Procedures/ Platelet-Rich Plasma

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Procedures 4 min read

 

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Platelet rich plasma PRP has made headlines in recent years, mainly because some elite sportspersons like Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods have used this treatment to heal from sports injuries. What are PRP injections? How does platelet rich plasma PRP work? Is PRP therapy worth it? Continue reading to get the answers to all your questions about plasma therapy.

What is platelet rich plasma PRP?

Human blood is made up of a straw-colored liquid called plasma. The plasma contains various types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Platelets are tiny blood cells that play an important role in blood clotting (they are responsible for stopping bleeding when you have a cut, for example). But platelets also contain a variety of growth factors and proteins that play a critical role in healing injuries.

Platelet rich plasma therapy utilizes this healing property of platelets. PRP injections consist of, as the name suggests, plasma that is rich in platelets, i.e., it contains a higher concentration of platelets than normal blood. PRP therapy provides 5-10 times the amount of growth factors compared to normal blood. As a result, plasma injections are used to aid with wound healing, speed up the healing process after tendon injuries, and benefit people with a wide range of medical conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and hair loss.

How do plasma injections work?

The treatment with PRP injections involves taking a small sample of the patient's own blood. This sample is then placed in a centrifuge machine which spins the blood and separates the blood components. Further maneuvers are performed for platelet activation. Doctors then take the platelet rich plasma and inject it into the target area. The concentrated solution that is injected back into the patient's body at the site of injury contains growth factors and proteins that aid healing. Sometimes, ultrasound guidance is used to place the PRP injections at the exact site.

What conditions can benefit from platelet rich plasma therapy?

One of the most common uses of PRP injections is to treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries like tendon injuries. This includes things like Achilles tendonitis, jumper's knee, and tennis elbow. PRP therapy has also proved useful in treating acute sports injuries involving muscles and ligaments. Sometimes, platelet rich plasma PRP is used to speed up healing after surgery, such as a meniscus repair in the knee.

People suffering from chronic pain due to knee osteoarthritis or other types of arthritis may benefit from PRP injections. It is believed that the knee injections help reduce the inflammation that causes the joint to become stiff and painful.

Doctors have also used PRP therapy to treat hair loss. PRP injections in the scalp are believed to promote hair growth by providing growth factors and other nutrients necessary for cell growth.

Some cosmetic procedures, such as the popular vampire facial, involve PRP injections. The growth factors in the injections are believed to promote skin rejuvenation.

Is platelet-rich plasma safe?

PRP therapy involves injecting your own blood into an area of injury or other body part. Because the treatment does not introduce any foreign substances into the body, the risk of adverse effects is low. Most patients tolerate the PRP procedure quite well.

Moreover, PRP is a minimally invasive treatment that involves injections. When performed by a qualified physician, the injections are quite safe.

PRP may be contraindicated in some individuals, for example, people who are on blood thinners. These and some other medications can increase the risk of bleeding with injection treatments. You should provide complete health information to your provider during your consultation, including current medications and allergies. This will ensure you are only recommended PRP therapy if you can undergo the treatments safely.

Why is PRP so painful?

In general, platelet rich plasma PRP treatment is not painful. The amount of pain you experience with these treatments will depend on your individual pain tolerance as well as the part of the body being injected. Doctors sometimes use a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort from the PRP procedure.

How much does the treatment cost? Are PRP injections with blood cells worth it?

PRP therapy can cost anything from $500 to $2,000 per treatment. Remember, you may need a series of injections to see benefit with wound healing or pain relief. Oftentimes, cosmetic treatments with PRP, such as PRP for hair loss, can be more expensive than treatments for medical conditions like a tennis elbow. Moreover, the duration of the benefits is not clear. Some patients experience speeding up of the healing process and this serves their purpose. However, for other patients, the symptoms, for example knee pain, return a few months to a year after the PRP therapy.

As far as whether PRP treatments are worth it - the jury's still out on this one. Research studies have not given PRP a ringing endorsement just yet. What further complicates the picture is the lack of standardization in the treatments. Results can vary greatly depending on the preparation of PRP, the products used for platelet activation, and the ability of the doctor to place the injections precisely at the site of injury.

Finding a doctor for PRP therapy

The MeTime app makes it easy to find experienced aesthetic providers who offer PRP in your area. You can click and upload pictures, chat with experts, and have suggestions sent directly to you. The app connects you certified cosmetic surgeons with proven track records in platelet rich plasma PRP. If you would like to learn more about these treatments, try the MeTime app today!

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