Platelet rich plasma (PRP) for treatment of alopecia areata
Platelet rich plasma or “PRP” treatment has been around since the 1990’s, but is increasingly finding application in various parts of medicine. PRP to treat hair loss is increasingly popular and current evidence suggests it helps 50-70 % of patients with genetic hair loss. Hair transplant surgeons are increasingly interested in using PRP during surgery. We too are now offering PRP as a means to augment currently available treatment modalities for hair loss.
PRP involves obtaining a patient’s blood and isolating a component of the blood cells called platelets and the rich nutrients that surround the platelets called platelet rich plasma. It’s this platelet rich plasma that can stimulate hair growth in some patients. PRP is known to contain over 20 different growth factors.
Does PRP also help patients with alopecia areata?
Although PRP has been studied in genetic hair loss, it’s role in alopecia areata had not been carefully studied. Researchers from Italy and Israel set out to study the benefit of PRP in patients with alopecia areata and compare how well the treatment worked compared to the standard treatment – that being steroid injections.
The researchers studied 45 patients with alopecia areata. After 12 months of observation, 60 % of patients treated with PRP had complete remission compared to 27 % of patients treated with steroid injections. Furthermore at 6 months after treatment, 38 % of patients receiving steroid injections had relapse compared to none of the patients form the PRP group. At 12 months, 71 % of patients in the steroid injection group had a relapse compared to only 31 % in the PRP treatment group.
This is an tremendously exciting study. PRP has very little side effects because it is the patient’s own blood. PRP not only has growth promoting effects but has anti-proliferative effects as well. Both of these effects are likely extremely important for effective treatment of alopecia areata
Further large studies are needed to better understand the role of PRP in alopecia areata. This initial study gives us new hope that this indeed may be a good treatment modality.
Trink A et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled, half-head study to evaluate the effects of platelet rich plasma on alopecia. British Journal of Dermatology 2013; 169: 690-94
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887