PRP and Hair Loss:

What You Need To Know

Written by Ann-Marie D’Arcy-Sharpe / Medically reviewed by Dr. Brittany Yee

Gloved hands delivering an injection of platelet-rich plasma to a man's hairline

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What Is PRP

What Is PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma)?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is blood plasma with a high concentration of platelets. Platelets are a type of blood cell that promote growth and healing. Plasma is the liquid that surrounds the platelets and helps them move around our bodies in our blood. When we get a cut or an injury, platelets help to stop the bleeding and heal the wound. (1,2) 

Since PRP has a high number of platelets, it can help with healing. It’s often used to help with various conditions, including supporting recovery after surgery and helping heal injuries. (5) 

PRP is isolated from the patient’s own blood, then injected back into the body around the area that needs help with healing. When used for hair loss, PRP is injected into the scalp using tiny intradermal injections to increase hair growth. (2,3)

What Is PRP Used For?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including (1,5-7):

  • Musculoskeletal injuries: PRP can be used during injury recovery to aid healing and reduce recovery time. 
  • Healing from surgery: PRP can help patients recover from surgery and heal faster. It’s proven helpful in various surgeries, including oral, maxillofacial (mouth, jaw, and face), orthopedic, and cardiac surgery. 
  • Joint conditions: PRP has shown promise in reducing pain and promoting healing for patients with chronic joint conditions such as osteoarthritis. 
  • Skin conditions: PRP has been used to improve skin conditions such as acne. It has been trialed as an anti-aging treatment, used to reduce wrinkles and improve the health of a patient’s skin. PRP has also been used cosmetically during procedures like fat grafting and tissue regeneration. 
  • Hair loss: PRP is not yet approved as a hair loss treatment, but clinical trials show it has the potential to prevent further hair loss and encourage new hair growth. It may also improve hair graft survival by up to 15 percent when used during hair transplantation. 

 

How Long Has PRP Been Used as a Hair Loss Treatment?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used for 15 years as a hair loss treatment. It was initially used in the 1970s to treat thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). A decade later, doctors began to use PRP to improve surgery outcomes. Since then, it’s also been used to treat injuries in the sports field with success, which attracted a lot of media attention. (8)

PRP was first explored as a treatment for hair loss in 2006 (8). Since then, research has shown it to be a promising treatment for hair loss, improving hair density and hair growth. (5)

How Does PRP Work?

How Does PRP Work?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a component of your blood that has a high number of platelets. Platelets promote increased growth and healing. Plasma containing higher concentrations of platelets is used, hence the name platelet-rich plasma. (5) 

Higher concentrations of platelets mean increased potential for healing and regeneration. PRP is injected into patients in areas of their body that can benefit from these regeneration properties. (5) 

During a PRP procedure, you have a small portion of your own blood drawn. The blood will be drawn on the same day as the PRP will be injected. Approximately 10 to 60 milliliters of your blood will be taken. (1) 

Your blood is then placed into a centrifuge. This machine spins rapidly, separating different components based on their densities. The blood is separated into red blood cells, PRP, and platelet-poor plasma (PPP). (8,9) 

Once the PRP is separated, it’s drawn up into a syringe. The PRP is then injected into the areas of the skin which need to be healed. In the case of PRP hair restoration, they’re injected into the scalp in the balding areas to encourage hair growth. (4) This is initially done in three sessions, spaced a month apart and followed up by maintenance sessions. (9) 

Many clinical trials have found that PRP can work for hair loss, making it a highly promising treatment option. Research also shows it can be an effective way to enhance other treatments, such as hair transplants and minoxidil. 

PRP is specifically thought to increase hair growth and hair density and improve hair health. (2,3) However, it’s important to mention here that PRP is not yet approved as safe for hair loss. 

How Is PRP Used for Hair Loss?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a component of your blood containing high amounts of platelets, which promote regeneration and growth. During a PRP procedure for hair loss, a small amount of your blood is drawn. Typically between 10 and 60 milliliters of blood is taken. (1) 

Your blood is then placed in a centrifuge, which spins at high speed and separates liquids into different densities. The centrifugal force of the machine separates your blood into three components: red blood cells, PRP, and platelet-poor plasma (PPP). (8,9) 

PRP is the plasma containing the highest number of platelets. It typically has five times more platelets than the rest of your blood. Platelets help with growth, regeneration, and healing, among other important roles. The higher the number of platelets, the better the chance that the plasma will increase these positive outcomes. (8,9) 

Once it’s separated, PRP is drawn up into a syringe. The PRP is then injected into multiple areas of your scalp where you desire hair growth. Very fine needles are used, and placement is carefully planned out. (9) There are many ways that this procedure can be made less painful, including using cold air devices, ice compression, and lidocaine. (15)  

The injections reach the bottom of the hair follicle and are thought to stimulate dermal papilla cells, which play a pivotal role in hair growth. The dermal papilla cells produce growth factors including IGF-1, FGF-7, hepatocyte growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor. These growth factors help extend the anagen phase of your hair growth cycle. This is the phase where new hair shafts develop, leading to new hair growth. (9) 

The exact mechanism of action of PRP for hair loss isn’t fully understood. But in essence, it’s thought that growth factors in the platelets stimulate new hair growth. Specific growth factors, including platelet‐derived growth factor (PDGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and insulin-like growth factor‐1 (IGF‐1), are thought to help with this process. (3,5) 

Typically PRP requires multiple sessions. Usually, three sessions are needed, each carried out a month apart. (9) Additional sessions may be necessary after 3 to 4 months to maintain the results, depending on your individual needs and desired outcomes. (9) 

PRP Effectiveness

Is PRP Effective For Hair Loss?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is not yet approved as a hair loss treatment, but clinical trials and studies have shown that it could be a highly effective hair loss treatment. (5) PRP works by stimulating the hair follicles and extending the growth phase of the hair cycle. Research shows PRP can reduce hair loss and increase hair growth. (2,4) 

One study found that patients treated with PRP experienced a 19 percent increase in hair density over a year. (7) A double-blind study found a significant increase in hair growth and hair density at 3 months and 6 months. (6) 

Studies have primarily focused on androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is one of the most common types of hair loss, affecting 50 million American men and 30 million women. (14) 

PRP has shown promise as a treatment for both male and female pattern hair loss. Further research is needed to see if it can help treat other hair problems, such as stress-related hair loss and scarring alopecia. (9) 

Does PRP Make Hair Thicker?

Some studies have shown that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can improve hair thickness.  (7) However, research suggests that hair thickness may not be increased as much compared to other hair loss treatments, such as topical minoxidil. (1)

Studies have found that when PRP is combined with other treatments, hair thickness increases significantly. One study found that when PRP was combined with hair transplantation, hair thickness increased by 19 percent. (7) 

Does PRP Regrow Your Hair?

Many people wonder: “Can PRP grow new hair?” Research suggests that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has the potential to tackle hair loss by promoting new hair growth, as well as reducing hair loss. (4,10) 

A 2019 study discovered that PRP resulted in a significant increase in hair regrowth in patients with androgenetic alopecia. (4) A double-blind, half-head, and placebo-controlled study found that PRP significantly improved hair density at 3 and 6 months. (6) 

Can PRP Be Used With Other Hair Loss Treatments?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can be used with a range of other hair loss treatments. It’s been used alongside hair transplantation, and results are promising. PRP can improve graft survival by up to 15 percent and improve hair density by as much as 19 percent. (7) 

Using PRP during hair transplantation has been proven to reduce healing time, improve hair growth and density, and even improve hair quality. In a randomized study on 40 hair transplant patients, everyone given PRP had over 75 percent follicle growth (increased hair growth). Only 20 percent of those who weren’t given PRP experienced similar growth. (11) 

PRP has been tested in combination with minoxidil. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that increases blood flow to the scalp, prompting healthier, thicker hair to grow. Minoxidil is typically applied once or twice a day topically in a 5 percent solution or foam.

A 2019 trial found that when PRP is paired with 5 percent minoxidil solution, it enhances hair growth and hair density more than minoxidil alone. The study also found that using microneedling (using very small needles to penetrate the surface of the skin) enhances outcomes of PRP. (12) 

Finasteride and PRP have also been studied in combination. Finasteride is a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker. DHT is a hormone that can bind to the hair follicles in excess and is one of the primary causes of androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride works to lower levels of DHT to combat this and promote increased hair growth. Studies have shown that combined finasteride and PRP treatment improved hair growth and reduced hair loss. However, this combination wasn’t as effective as minoxidil and PRP. (1) 

Triamcinolone acetonide, a steroid medication used to treat skin conditions and certain types of alopecia (mainly alopecia areata), has been used in conjunction with PRP with promising results. (13) However, it’s important to remember these combination treatments are not yet approved as safe and more research is needed. 

PRP Safety and Side Effects

What Are The Risks of PRP?

Like any procedure, there are risks associated with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections that you need to be aware of to help you make an informed decision. Hair loss may be caused as a result of the procedure, known as telogen effluvium. (4) However, this hair shedding is usually temporary. (9) 

Since the procedure involves injections into your scalp, other risks include tissue damage, infection, redness, headaches, and potential nerve injuries. However, these risks are uncommon. (5,9) Side effects such as bleeding at the injection sites, swelling, itching, and some mild pain may occur after the PRP procedure, but these should pass as you heal. (1) 

Is PRP Dangerous?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is not considered to be dangerous. There are risks, but the procedure is generally considered safe when performed by a trained medical professional. (9) However, it isn’t yet approved by the FDA as safe, so it’s vital you discuss the risks with your doctor and make an informed decision. (2) 

Does PRP Have Side Effects?

Like all medical procedures, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) does have potential side effects. Side effects may include:

  • Temporary hair shedding
  • Bleeding at the injection site
  • Headaches
  • Redness
  • Allergic reaction
  • Tissue or nerve damage
  • Infection 
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

The risk of these side effects is low, and some studies have reported no side effects from the procedure. (4) It’s important to remember that not everyone will experience these side effects and for those who do, they will most likely pass quickly. 

PRP is generally thought to be less likely to produce severe side effects than other methods because the treatment is made up of cells and blood from your own body. (1,5) While oral medications like finasteride can cause systemic side effects such as adverse sexual effects, the effects of PRP are localized. (14) 

Finasteride and minoxidil (a topical treatment) must be used daily to achieve and maintain the desired results, while PRP doesn’t require daily use. For these reasons, research suggests PRP may be more suited to some patients. (14) 

Does PRP Cause Hair Shedding?

Patients sometimes experience hair shedding due to the injection procedure used with platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Not to worry, though, as hair typically grows back over the coming 4 to 12 months as patients recover. This shedding is often referred to as telogen effluvium. (4) It’s important to note that this hair shedding is not uncommon with other hair loss treatments, including the popular topical treatment, minoxidil.

Does PRP for Hair Loss Hurt?

A local anesthetic will often be used during the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedure to prevent you from feeling pain. However, this isn’t always used, so you may experience mild pain as the PRP is injected. (6)  You will likely feel some discomfort, tenderness, and mild pain at the injection sites for a few days post-procedure. (5)

PRP Costs

How Much Does PRP for Hair Loss Cost?

The cost of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) varies greatly depending on where you live and which clinic you use. How experienced the medical professional is and the quality of the equipment they use will also have an impact.

PRP is a relatively expensive treatment, mainly because multiple sessions are needed. (9) Typically three sessions are required, each a month apart. Additional maintenance sessions may be needed in the months after the initial sessions. Some clinics offer deals with a lower price for a set number of sessions. 

Typical costs per session are shown below:

America: $1,000 on average

UK: From £150 to £425 

Canada: From CA$500 to CA$1,200

Australia: From AU$470 to AU$800

India: From Rs.4,500 to Rs.15,000

Is PRP for Hair Loss Usually Covered by Insurance?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments for hair loss are not typically covered by insurance as they’re classified as a cosmetic procedure. (9) They’re also not covered by insurance as a medical procedure for burn-related or scarring alopecias. In some cases, costs may be reimbursed if you’re part of a clinical study, but this isn’t common.

In the UK, PRP sessions are not covered by the National Health Service. This means you’ll need to pay out of pocket for your treatment. 

References

  1. S.R.; Paolino, G.; Di Nicola, M.R.; Vollono, L. (2021), Investigating the Safety and Efficacy of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Female Androgenetic Alopecia: Review of the Literature. Medicina 2021, 57, 311.
  2. Yuan-Jane Qiu, MMS, PA-S, Michael Huber, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, (2021), Efficacy of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections vs Topical Minoxidil in Adults with Androgenetic Alopecia. Arcadia University, Department of Medical Science. 
  3. Gezim Dervishi, Haibo Liu, Sandra Peternel, Alexander Labeit, Frank Peinemann, (2020), Autologous platelet-rich plasma therapy for pattern hair loss: A systematic review. J Cosmet Dermatol, 2020 Apr;19(4):827-835.
  4. Elham Behrangi, Abbas Zamanian, Gholamhossein Ghaffarpour, Maryam Hashemi Orimi , Amir Heydarian, and Zahra Azizian, (2019), Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Effect on Androgenetic Alopecia and Female Pattern Hair Loss. J Skin Stem Cell. 2019 March; 6(1):e87979.
  5. Geoffrey Dreher, D.O, (2021), Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections. The Johns Hopkins University. 
  6. Rubina Alves, MD and Ramon Grimalt, MD, PhD, (2016), Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Half-Head Study to Assess the Efficacy of Platelet-Rich Plasma on the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia. Dermatol Surg 2016;42:491–497. 
  7. Pietro Gentile , John P. Cole, Megan A. Cole, et al, (2017), Evaluation of Not-Activated and Activated PRP in Hair Loss Treatment: Role of Growth Factor and Cytokine Concentrations Obtained by Different Collection Systems. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 408. 
  8. Alves R, Grimalt R., (2018), A Review of Platelet-Rich Plasma: History, Biology, Mechanism of Action, and Classification. Skin Appendage Disord 2018;4:18-24. 
  9. Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS, Maryanne Makredes Senna, MD, (2020), Platelet-rich plasma: Does the cure for hair loss lie within our blood? Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 
  10. V. Cervelli, S. Garcovich, A. Bielli, G. Cervelli, B. C. Curcio, M. G. Scioli, A. Orlandi, and P. Gentile, (2014), The Effect of Autologous Activated Platelet Rich Plasma (AA-PRP) Injection on Pattern Hair Loss: Clinical and Histomorphometric Evaluation. Hindawi Publishing Corporation BioMed Research International, Volume 2014, Article ID 760709, 9 pages 
  11. Garg S. (2016). Outcome of Intra-operative Injected Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy During Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant: A Prospective Randomised Study in Forty Patients. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 9(3), 157–164. 
  12.  Abhijeet Kumar Jha MD, Keshavamurthy Vinay MD, DNB, MNAMS, MRCP, Md Zeeshan MD, Prasoon Kumar Roy MD, R. K. P. Chaudhary MD, Aditi Priya MD, (2019), Platelet-rich plasma and microneedling improves hair growth in patients of androgenetic alopecia when used as an adjuvant to minoxidil. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Volume 18, Issue 5 October 2019, Pages 1330-1335
  13. Thamer Mubki, (2016), Platelet-rich plasma combined with intralesional triamcinolone acetonide for the treatment of alopecia areata: A case report. Journal of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 87-90
  14. Cleveland Clinic, (2020), Hair Loss Got You Down? Platelet-Rich Plasma May Regrow It. 
  15. Susie Suh, BA, Fiore S. Casale, MMS, Natasha Atanaskova Mesinkovska, MD, PhD, (2021), Effective strategies to reduce pain during platelet-rich plasma scalp injections: A randomized split-scalp study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
  16. Mapar, M. A., Shahriari, S., & Haghighizadeh, M. H. (2016). Efficacy of platelet-rich plasma in the treatment of androgenetic (male-patterned) alopecia: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 18(8), 452-455.
  17. Gentile, P., Garcovich, S., Bielli, A., Scioli, M. G., Orlandi, A., & Cervelli, V. (2015). The effect of platelet‐rich plasma in hair regrowth: a randomized placebo‐controlled trial. Stem cells translational medicine, 4(11), 1317-1323
  18. Tawfik AA, Osman MAR. The effect of autologous activated platelet-rich plasma injection on female pattern hair loss: A randomized placebo-controlled study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;00:1–7
  19. Toama, M. A., Khater, E., & Soliman, M. I. (2017). Platelet rich plasma treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men and women. J Clin Investigat Dermatol, 5(2), 5.
    1. Mercuri, S. R., Paolino, G., Di Nicola, M. R., & Vollono, L. (2021). Investigating the Safety and Efficacy of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Female Androgenetic Alopecia: Review of the Literature. Medicina, 57(4), 311.

    Last updated July 2021