Hair loss due to genetics in men and women is known as androgenetic alopecia and is extremely common. A wide variety of methods have been used to treat this type of hair loss of which the pharmacologic treatments have been the most successful. At the least they are the most documented by scientific scrutiny having to pass through FDA clinical trials.
The drugs Oral finasteride (Propecia) and topical minoxidil (Rogaine) each have proven to slow or cease hair loss and offer some variable amounts of hair regrowth. Side effects, however, cause some patients to avoid their use or eventually cease using them.
More recently another type of stimulating agent, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), has been applied to treat hair loss. Since this is a natural concentrate from the patient’s blood, it does not require FDA approval to use for any medical purpose. Thus no FDA-sanctioned clinical trial has ever been done on PRP for hair loss and its benefits have largely been anectodal.
In the Online First January 2016 issue of the European Journal of Plastic Surgery, the article entitled ‘Management of Androgenetic Alopecia: A Comparative Clinical Study between Plasma Rich Growth Factors and Topical Minoxidil’ was published. The purpose of this clinical study was to compare the effectiveness of plasma rich plasma (PRP) versus topical minoxidil treatments in genetically-driven hair loss patients. Almost 400 patients (379 to be exact) were treated with either platelet rich plasma or minoxidil. Diagnostic trichograms were done prior to and 4 months after treatment to analyze the anagen/telogen hair change improvement.
Their results shows that platelet rich plasma treated patients had higher anagen hair increase improvement compared to minoxidil treated patients. (6.9 vs 4.6, p?<?0.05). Telogen hair decrease improvement was also higher in the platelet rich plasma treated group. (5.7?vs 2.6?, p?<?0.05). Photographs showed an overall improvement in both volume and quality of hair for both types of treatments. No adverse effects for either treatment were seen. The authors conclude that platelet rich plasma is a safe and effective treatment for androgeneic alopecia and offers improved results over that of topical minoxidil.
This is the first study that has demonstrated in a large series of patients the benefits of platelet rich plasma injections in the treatment of hair loss. Even at its worst, one can conclude that platelet rich plasma is at least as effective as minoxidil. The benefits of PRP hair loss treatment is that it is a single treatment session and has no side effects. Its negatives are that it is much more expensive than minoxidil and would likely have to be repeated every 4 to 6 months to maintain its effects. There is no information currently that would indicate as to how many times PRP injections would be need to be repeated to majntain or improve hair growth.
Dr. Barry Eppley