PRP, or platelet-rich plasma, is part of a revolution in medicine. PRP contains an abundance of growth factors that play a valuable role in healing many ailments. The PRP technology has been developing for the benefit of patients, resulting in improved outcome and great results.
Platelet-rich plasma has evolved over the past 15 years from an experimental treatment and an idea that concentrated platelets can heal injuries to an everyday treatment that benefits so many. Platelets are concentrated by taking your blood in a tube or syringe and spinning the blood in a high-speed centrifuge that causes the components of blood to separate, including the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The first generation of platelets involved one or two spins to separate the platelets, often including an anticoagulant to prevent clotting and solidifying of the platelets so it can be spread as a liquid around the target. This PRP has been effective for a range of musculoskeletal conditions. The second generation of PRP involves formation of a platelet-rich fibrin matrix (PRFM) that is valuable as a gel that can be applied to wounds, surgical sites and for dental conditions.
The third generation of PRP, also called CGF or concentrated growth factors,
was first developed and described in 2006 by an Italian physician (Dr. Sacco) and has recently become widely available in the United States with the Medifuge centrifuge. With a single spin, the blood is spun at multiple speeds, which concentrates the platelets while also isolating cells that express CD34+. This is a type of stem cell that greatly enhances the effectiveness of the platelets. The other advantage of this third-generation PRP is that without anticoagulants the platelets can be applied quickly as a liquid to apply to injured tendons and ligaments or for cosmetic benefit. By waiting a few minutes the platelets solidify, which is great for applying to wounds. Even when applied as a liquid, the third generation platelets solidify soon after injected, which helps attach the platelets to the area injected. This allows the platelets to provide growth factors for a longer duration to increase effectiveness.
There are many applications for this advanced PRP. Ligament and tendon injuries respond very well to PRP. These injuries often do not heal spontaneously because the ligaments and tendons do not get good blood flow. With PRP and its accompanying growth factors, the tendon and ligament is able to finally heal, providing long-term relief. In contrast to a steroid injection, which provides short-term relief and may contribute to tissue degeneration, PRP helps build and strengthen tissue and provides long-term relief.
To clarify, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, wrist tendonitis, iliotibial band syndrome, Osgood-Schlatter’s and Achilles tendonitis are all examples of tendon injuries characterized by weakening of the tendon fibers or even partial tears. PRP strengthen the tendon and heals all of these conditions.
Ligament injuries include all joint sprains and strains such as ankle sprains, shoulder strains, etc. The hallmark of joint arthritis is weakening of the ligaments that leads to wear and tear of the joint, with a cascade of cartilage erosion that leads to bone spurs, then joint space narrowing and eventually “bone on bone.” Any time you see a bone spur, chances are that there is a loose ligament that created the conditions that led to that spur. Platelets heal the ligaments so that the joint is more stable and the arthritic pain is relieved and recurrent ankle sprains stop recurring.
Thus, PRP is very effective for arthritic joints, including knee arthritis, hip arthritis and shoulder arthritis among others. The PRP is effective at strengthening the joint capsule that is comprised of ligaments and can provide support for the joint cartilage. Even with severe bone-on-bone arthritis, PRP can help strengthen the ligaments around the joint, which helps reduce pain.
PRP can also help you improve your appearance. With the vampire facial you get the benefit of the healing growth factors, which lead to increased collagen and blood flow for skin rejuvenation. The great aspect of this treatment is that this is a very natural way to naturally enhance your skin. Without undergoing surgery you can achieve a youthful appearance. So while stars such as Bar Rafaeli and Kim Kardashian have used platelets to enhance their appearance, the vampire facial is accessible to you and will give your skin a healthy, revitalized feeling. Everyone has an inner beauty. PRP helps your outer beauty so it is in sync with your inner beauty.
There are other cosmetic benefits to platelets. The growth factors that the platelets release can heal scars. This includes unsightly scars after a surgery or a laceration. Growing collagen within the scar will usually improve its appearance. Acne scars, which are tiny holes along the skin surface, are filled in with platelets. Burn scars may not be totally eliminated with PRP, but the growth factors can have dramatic effects on the appearance of these scars.
Another cosmetic benefit of PRP is hair growth. PRP leads to increased hair follicle formation increasing the hair density. While not practical for total hair loss, PRP is excellent for treating thinning hair in men and women. The best part is that you are stimulating the follicle growth with your own platelets without the use of medications or other invasive procedures. So if you run your hand through your hair and you feel it is thinner than you would like, PRP may be for you.
PRP is abundant, safe and the world’s most sophisticated repair system. Nothing else comes close to its amazing properties. PRP is a powerful source of growth factors. What’s best is that it comes from your own body so you are healing your own body with your own platelets. Whether you have an injury that needs the healing benefit of platelets, or if you want to enhance your appearance, promote hair growth or improve a scar, or for other challenges that can be enhanced with platelets, you should consider PRP to improve your quality of life. The success of PRP has been enhanced with the new technology of third-generation PRP. The concentrated growth factors (CGF) optimize platelets that are enhanced by stem cells for maximal benefit.
Dr. Slaten is a pain wellness physician in Ridgewood. For more than 20 years he has been practicing regenerative techniques with great skill and an open mind. Check out his website at www.njprp.com for more information.