What is PRP Therapy?

Freshly-separated PRP.  Now it's time to draw up the platelet-rich fractions.

Freshly-separated PRP.  Now it's time to draw up the platelet-rich fractions.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a treatment that can be used for a multitude of different applications.  From musculoskeletal issues like joint degeneration or tendon strains to cosmetic concerns such as acne scarring, hair loss and aging, PRP has shown tremendous benefit in both clinical practice and in the literature.

PRP therapy involves drawing 40-100mL of your own blood and spinning it down in a special centrifuge.  Doing this allows the red blood cells and plasma to separate.  The plasma contains platelets which are rich in growth factors and biologically active cytokines and proteins that support wound healing.  This platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is drawn off and injected into problem areas.  Depending on the concern, 3-6 treatments may be required at an interval anywhere from 1-4 weeks.  For cosmetic purposes such as lines and wrinkles, the treatment may only need to be performed 1-2 times yearly.

Adverse effects are rare although the most common side effects may include soreness and mild bruising at the site of injection.  Scar tissue formation at the injection site is rare but also possible.  The treatment utilizes local anaesthetic which numbs the sensation of the injections for up to a few hours post-treatment, leaving the treatment relatively painless.  

We spin the blood down in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the red blood cells.

We spin the blood down in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the red blood cells.

PRP therapy is not performed on patients with active cancer or patients who have had cancer within five years prior to treatment.  Those with low platelet counts, active infection or who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not eligible for PRP injections.  It's also important to let your health care provider know of any allergies to local anaesthetic prior to PRP injection.

If you'd like to learn more about PRP therapy, you can check out my other articles on the topic HERE.