Summary: Platelet-rich-plasma is a popular procedure add-on that many cosmetic surgery patients elect to employ. But does PRP really work? Will this procedure really help eliminate lines and wrinkles? The answers aren’t entirely clear, but I suppose that’s what makes the procedure worth looking at in a little more detail. Because the answer also depends on what you plan to use the PRP for in the first place.
What’s the Verdict: Does PRP Really Work?
You’ve probably heard about PRP by now, especially if you follow cosmetic surgery news of any kind (and you’re here, so that’s a pretty good guess on my part). But for those of you who don’t know, PRP stands for platelet-rich-plasma, and it’s the cosmetic surgery innovation that created the “vampire” line of procedures (the vampire facelift, vampire facial–you get the idea).
The rationale for this vampire moniker was pretty clear: PRP is derived from your own blood. So you’re essentially performing an act of vampirism on yourself. And now that I think about it, that’s not really how vampires actually behave, so maybe the etymology of that treatment moniker isn’t so clear after all.
Either way, there are some nebulous feelings around PRP treatments, and you can tell. The Vampire suite of treatments isn’t quite as popular (or popularized) as they once were. What does that say about PRP? Does PRP really work? Or is it just a cleverly advertised placebo effect? Really, we’re not in a better position to make that determination than your cosmetic surgeon–and even the best procedures will be ineffective for some patients. So we’re going to take a look at the ways in which PRP is supposed to work and see if those promises line up with actual outcomes. (As always, if you have any questions about PRP, please consult with your cosmetic surgeon. This article is intended for entertainment purposes only.)
What Does PRP Do? And Where Does it Come From?
As we already mentioned, PRP comes from your own blood. That’s what makes headlines about “vampire facials” so tempting (and one of the reasons this procedure is so interesting to market). Most PRP procedures will begin with some kind of blood draw–the exact amount needed will vary with the procedure, but it’s safe to say you probably won’t leave lightheaded or anything.
Essentially, it PRP works like this:
- The blood is drawn from your body
- That blood is then placed in a centrifuge where individual cells can be separated. It’s through this action that the PRP cells are isolated from the rest of your blood
- Those platelet-rich-plasma cells are collected
- The collected PRP will be placed into a syringe and then used for whatever purpose you’ve signed up for (there are indeed several purposes for PRP, but it’s almost always applied via a syringe).
- Results happen!
So, it’s not as though you’re bathing in your own blood or anything quite grotesque. The idea behind PRP is that it supercharges your body’s own rejuvenating properties, especially in when applied in conjunction with another procedure that does the same (Microneedling or SkinPen procedures are popular complements to PRP injections).
What is PRP used for?
All of which brings up a rather simple question: what do people use PRP for? “Rejuvenation” is such a broad term that it almost means nothing.There are a couple of primary uses for PRP that have become popularized over the years:
- Helping to eliminate lines and wrinkles: This is what is often described as a vampire facial, and it sees PRP combined with microneedling or SkinPen.
- Regrowing or rejuvenating thinning hair: This rather novel use of PRP is also one of the most popular, in which PRP is injected into the scalp in order to promote hair regrowth.
If you’re interested in more or other uses, contact your cosmetic surgeon to find out more about how we use PRP.
Does Actually PRP Work?
I think it’s fair to say that the science behind PRP treatments isn’t well understood, and it’s difficult, therefore, to scientifically prove whether PRP is achieving its desired results. But there are also plenty of people who swear by those results. (Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence does not make for good scientific evidence.)
Answering the question of whether PRP actually works, therefore, is quite difficult. There are certainly many patients who demonstrably regrow thinning hair after a PRP just as there are patients who demonstrably see wrinkles and lines diminish after a vampire facial.
But it’s difficult to say that PRP treatments work for everybody. Even when treating thinning hair, there are simply some patients who don’t respond. In part, that’s because wrinkles, lines, and hair loss are all caused by a complex matrix of varying reasons. It’s possible that PRP treatments are effective at treating some of those causes but not all of them.
Does PRP actually work? Well, it might. And it might work for you. The best way to find out is to schedule a consultation with your cosmetic surgeon or your local medical spa. During that consultation, you’ll be able to ask all of your PRP questions and receive individualized answers about the results you desire.
- “Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) – OrthoInfo – AAOS.” Frozen Shoulder – Adhesive Capsulitis – OrthoInfo – AAOS, orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/platelet-rich-plasma-prp/.
- Nall, Rachel. “Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP): Costs, Side Effects, and Treatments.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320107.php.
- “Patient Education.” Fairview, www.fairview.org/sitecore/content/Fairview/Home/Patient-Education/Articles/English/w/h/a/t/_/What_is_PRP_Treatment_524280.
About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about plastic surgery for nearly five years. He regularly confers with plastic and cosmetic surgeons to ensure that accurate information about very complex topics is conveyed to readers in an easy to understand way.