5 Things You Need to Know about Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
You may have heard of the term PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) aka the vampire facial, but what really is it, how does it work and is it the right treatment for you?
First of all, it is important to understand the ageing process.
Ageing can be accelerated by intrinsic or extrinsic factors.
Intrinsic (or chronological ageing) is genetically determined and starts to take effect at around the mid-20s. This sees the slowdown of cellular process resulting in slowed regeneration of cells and tissue. Cells such as fibroblasts start to produce less quality and less quantity of collagen and elastin causing changes in the skin.
Intrinsic ageing is associated with sagging skin, underlying fat pad atrophy and bone loss.
Extrinsic ageing is determined by environmental factors that can accelerate the ageing process and prematurely age the skin. This can include natural factors such as repetitive facial expressions, gravity and sleeping positions; or have a more direct biological effect from free radical damage such as UV damage, stress, smoking or chemical exposure.
Extrinsic ageing is associated with skin thinning, fragility and wrinkles along with pigmentation and vascular changes.
What is PRP?
PRP is a treatment used for cosmetic or medical purposes to regenerate tissue.
extracting blood and plasma from a vein with a needle,
separating the red blood cell products from platelets and plasma using a centrifuge,
and administering the plasma into the skin via subcutaneous injections.
PRP is designed to stimulate cells to function at an optimal level using your own platelets and plasma proteins.
Rather than winding back the clock, it slows down the clock and is therefore a great preventative or maintenance treatment to start at any age.
PRP is autologous - meaning it is derived from your own body. It is essentially putting ‘you’ back into ‘you’ for the purpose of:
Rejuvenating areas of dry, thinning or crêpey skin – great for eye areas, neck and décolletage
Stimulates fibroblast cell function to produce collagen and elastin more efficiently
Assists in wound healing
Stimulates hair growth
How does PRP work?
Blood platelets are rich in natural proteins called Growth Factors.
These natural Growth Factors help form, regenerate and repair tissue that has been damaged.
Administering a concentrated dose of Growth Factors to ageing skin supports slowed cells to regenerate at a faster level, which in turn can promote tissue healing in muscles, revitalise hair follicles in the scalp, and stimulate collagen fibres and epidermal cells in the skin, to help restore youthful plumping and elasticity.
What should I expect during the procedure?
A treatment plan including goals and expectations should be discussed by your treating nurse or doctor. It is best to keep hydrated the day before and day of treatment, and avoid drinking alcohol.
Numbing cream will be applied to the treatment area for around 15-20 minutes
Blood will be taken from your vein (approx. 15-30 ml)
Blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the PRP from the red blood cells
Treatment areas are cleansed thoroughly to avoid infection risk
The PRP concentration is injected into treatment area using very fine superficial needles
Soothing antiseptic cream is applied post treatment
Does it hurt?
Some discomfort is expected during a PRP procedure but is greatly minimised with topical anaesthetic cream.
Areas of thicker skin such as cheeks can be more uncomfortable than areas of thin skin such as the eyes.
You may choose to take a paracetamol before the treatment but aspirin and anti-inflammatories are not advised. The treatment takes around 45 minutes to complete.
What to expect after treatment?
Swelling, pin point bleeding and/or bruising are expected side effects of treatment. This is not the treatment to do quickly before an event!
Social downtime time is suggested for 1-2 days post treatment but there is no physical reason to stop you from doing day to day things like working and exercising.
What are the results?
PRP results take time, as the principles of regeneration do not happen overnight. Expect to see improvements in skin thickness, texture and hydration after 3 months.
This treatment works on a cellular level, optimising cell function in the background to slowly improve health of the skin.
Smoking, excessive drinking, active infection, blood disorders and platelet deficiencies can reduce results.
Think of your PRP journey like a fitness program – consistency is key, every little bit counts and results are better when combined with a healthy lifestyle.