In recent years, doctors have learned more about the body's ability to heal itself. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that can harness those abilities and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal tissue.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. In this way, PRP injections use each individual patient's own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.
After creating platelet-rich plasma from a patient’s blood sample, that solution is injected into the target area, such as an injured knee or a tendon. In some cases, the clinician may use ultrasound to guide the injection. The idea is to increase the concentration of specific bioproteins or hormones, called growth factors, in a specific area to accelerate the healing process.
PRP injections are used for a range of conditions, from musculoskeletal pain and injuries to cosmetic procedures.
PRP injections may be able to treat a range of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. For example, adding PRP shots to a treatment regimen can help to stimulate the healing process, decrease pain, and speed up a return to activities.
Clinicians first used PRP to accelerate healing after jaw or plastic surgeries. Now, post-surgical PRP injections have expanded to help heal muscles, tendons and ligaments, as procedures on these tissues have notoriously long recovery times.
Early studies indicate that PRP injections may help treat osteoarthritis pain and stiffness by modulating the joint environment and reducing inflammation, but research is growing.
PRP injections can be effective in treating male pattern baldness, both in preventing hair loss and promoting new hair growth. PRP can also aid in the stimulation of hair growth after hair transplants.
PRP injections are sometimes used as an anti-aging treatment, but there is little evidence to show that PRP reduces wrinkles and other signs of aging.
A PRP injection is a low-risk procedure and does not usually cause major side effects. The procedure involves a blood draw, so you should make sure you are hydrated and have eaten beforehand to prevent feeling lightheaded. After the procedure, you may experience some soreness and bruising at the injection site.
Because PRP injections are made up of your own cells and plasma, the risk of an allergic reaction is much lower than with other injectable medications like corticosteroids. Less common risks of PRP injections include:
If you are considering PRP injections, be sure to talk with your health care provider about all the benefits and risks.
Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure. It involves pricking the skin with tiny sterilized needles. The small wounds cause your body to make more collagen and elastin, which heal your skin and help you look younger. You might also hear it called collagen induction therapy.
Microneedling may help with issues like:
Microneedling is less expensive than laser treatments, which can cost about four times as much. Microneedling may work better for people with darker skin tones because it doesn’t involve heat the way laser treatments do, which can affect your skin’s pigmentation, or color. Ask your dermatologist what’s best for your skin -- and your budget.
Dermatologists can do microneedling. Aestheticians also do it. If you try it somewhere other than a doctor’s office, first check on the person’s experience and credentials, and make sure that all of the equipment is sterilized. The procedure usually takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how big the area is. Most people need 4-6 treatments to see a difference.
First, you’ll get a numbing cream smoothed onto your face so you can’t feel the needle pricks. Then the person doing the microneedling will move a pen-shaped or rolling tool with tiny needles around your face. The needles make small cuts in your skin, which causes a bit of bleeding. Your doctor may spread a cream or serum on your face after that.
Some things to think about before deciding to try it:
It’s not a quick fix. It takes time to notice a difference. That’s because your body is healing itself. Most people need a few treatments before they see any change.
Healing time. It may take days or weeks to heal, depending on how deep the needles pierce your skin.
Pain and redness. You may have some minor pain after the procedure, and your skin may be red for a few days.
Peeling. Your skin may feel tight and flake a bit while it heals.
Bruising and bleeding. There’s usually no bleeding during microneedling. But deep microneedling treatments may cause the skin to bleed or bruise.
Possible scarring. Microneedling isn’t a good idea for people who’ve had keloids, scars that look like large bubbles on the skin. It could make the condition worse.
Infection. Microneedling creates tiny holes in the skin, which could let germs enter, especially if the equipment isn’t cleaned well. But the risk of infection is very low. If you’re healthy, an infection from microneedling is unlikely.
Home microneedling kits, or home rollers, are becoming more and more popular. They’re widely available and inexpensive.
Rollers used at home use shorter, duller needles than professional microneedling devices. They temporarily stimulate blood vessels to brighten the skin. But home rollers usually won’t give you the same results as microneedling done at a dermatologist’s office or medical spa.
Like professional microneedling devices, home rollers can spread germs if they aren’t cleaned properly. Don’t use a home roller on infected skin.