by Renata Block, Physicial Assistant, AKA Super Derm Girl
Hair loss is not uncommon as it is normal to shed approximately 100 hairs on a daily basis. It is a natural process but who really counts; however, trust me, we know if there is an excess of 100 hairs lost which can be quite distressing. Having a head full of luscious, shiny hair is an image everyone desires. Nonetheless, when we get older and wiser in our years, we can note a little thinning to the top of our head. Unfortunately, this cannot be stopped because it is genetically prone (known as androgenetic alopecia a.k.a. male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness) but it can be slowed down and even improved by something called Platelet-Rich Plasma or PRP treatments.That being said, we have to remember that additional hair loss can be caused by many factors that have to be ruled out and may include, but are not limited to:
Extreme Stress: Temporarily seen after a traumatic event that happened 3-4 months prior.
Post-Partum: Hair loss 3-4 months after giving birth due to hormonal changes.
Hormonal Abnormality: A problem with an overactive thyroid (hyperthroid) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) as well as imbalances with other hormones such as androgens and estrogen.
Supplement deficiency: Iron deficiency is a common cause of hair thinning.
Autoimmune disease: Such as Alopecia Areata is a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles leading to a round patch of hair loss.
Certain Medications: Birth control pills, antidepressants, medications to control high blood pressure (anti-hypertensives) and blood thinners (coumadin) have been known culprits of hair thinning. However, these should not be stopped unless approved so by your physician.
Platelet-rich plasma, a.k.a. PRP, has been gaining popularity and momentum over the past few years and has shown some clinical improvement to those suffering with androgentic alopecia. Again, this is the gradual thinning of hair that may effect the entire scalp or show areas of baldness in both men and women that may take months to years to notice. Some signs include a widening part line for women and temporal recession for men.
So, how can plasma from your blood help? Plasma is rich in growth factors and contain white blood cells and platelets. Growth factors are proteins our body needs for healthy cell survival to stimulate regular cell function/organization and growth. The results typically require multiple treatments and consistency is important.
- Blood is drawn at the dermatology office and plasma is prepared by spinning it in something called a centrifuge.
- Once the plasma is separated, it is drawn up into a syringe and prepared to be injected into the scalp.
- There is minimal discomfort associated with the injections but nothing intolerable.
- Injections are scheduled every 4-6 weeks for 2-3 times, then every 3-6 months. This can vary by dermatology provider.
- Hair growth can clinically be seen after 3-4 months.
These treatments are not covered by insurance and a multi-faceted approach is best for optimal results. This may include oral prescription medications such as finasteride or spironolactone along with topical treatments like minoxidil, or my personal favorite, Ducray from Pierre Fabre.
Patience and commitment is key so make sure you visit your dermatology provider to rule out any other causes of hair loss before you dive in. Here is to a head full of beautiful hair!