Does it work for hair loss?

Hair loss and thinning hair are common problems in all genders. On 50 million men and 30 million women have lost at least some hair. It is especially common after reaching the age of 50 or due to stress.

And there are apparently hundreds of different hair loss treatments with varying levels of reliability and success. But some are based on much stronger science than others.

One of these treatments is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP is a substance extracted from your blood and injected into your scalp that can supposedly help heal body tissues, including the follicles from which your hair grows.

PRP is extracted from your blood using a centrifuge-like mechanism that can separate the substance from your blood and increase the concentration of specific proteins that promote healing.

This makes PRP potentially usable on its own for the treatment of tendon injuries and osteoarthritis.

Research also suggests that PRP injections can help treat androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness).

Let’s see what exactly the research says about the success rate of PRP treatment for hair loss, whether PRP has any side effects, and what results you can expect.

The short answer here is that the science isn’t 100% conclusive that PRP can help regrow your hair or preserve the hair you have.

Here is a look at some promising research findings on PRP and hair loss:

  • A 2014 study of 11 people with androgenic alopecia found that injecting 2-3 cubic centimeters of PRP into the scalp every 2 weeks for 3 months could increase the average number of follicles by 71-93 units. This study is too small to be conclusive, but it does show that PRP can help increase the number of hair follicles that can actively support healthy hair.
  • A 2015 study of 10 people receiving PRP injections every 2-3 weeks for 3 months showed improvements in hair count, hair thickness and hair root strength. This study helps provide additional support for the findings of other studies on PRP and hair loss. But 10 people is still too small a sample size to be conclusive.
  • A study 2019 compared two groups of people using different hair treatments for 6 months. One group of 20 people used minoxidil (Rogaine) and the other group of 20 people used PRP injections. Thirty people completed the study and the results showed that PRP was significantly more effective against hair loss than Rogaine. But the study also found that your platelet level can affect your own plasma’s effectiveness against hair loss. A lower blood platelet count may mean that PRP is not as effective for you.

Aside from treating male pattern baldness, there isn’t a ton of research on PRP for hair growth, and it’s not entirely conclusive.

So why all the hype? PRP is thought to contain proteins that perform several main functions thought to help hair regrowth:

And there is promising research suggesting that PRP might work for other types of hair loss.

Is PRP hair treatment a permanent solution?

The first round of treatments takes a few visits to see the first results.

And after results start to show, you’ll still need to do touch-ups at least once a year to maintain new hair regrowth.

PRP has some possible side effects from the injections and the procedure itself, including:

  • damage to blood vessels on the scalp
  • nerve damage
  • injection site infection
  • calcification or scar tissue where injections are made
  • side effects of the anesthesia used during the procedure, such as muscle aches, confusion, or problems with bladder control

Keep in mind that results will be different for everyone depending on overall health, blood platelet levels and hair health.

Here is an example of someone who saw positive results with PRP injection treatments for hair loss.

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Platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP, is a promising treatment for androgenic alopecia, a type of hair loss. Some people experience significant improvement after several sessions. Images via Dr. Usha Rajagopal, San Francisco Center for Plastic and Laser Surgery

PRP for hair loss has promising research behind it.

But much of the research has been conducted in small study groups of 40 people or fewer. So it’s hard to know if these results will work for everyone.

And your own blood may not have high enough concentrations of platelets to be fully effective in restoring your hair with PRP injection therapy.

Talk to a doctor about having your blood tested for platelets and having your hair health checked to see if you are a good candidate for PRP injection therapy.

Melissa R. Brumfield