PRP against hair loss

Hair loss (alopecia) is always a nuisance. For men and women alike. If you also suffer from it and ask yourself: “How can my hair loss be stopped?”, then I would like to introduce PRP to you in this article as a relatively new remedy for hair loss. It won’t bring back already lost hair – but short of that, the treatment can be very beneficial.

CAN PRP PREVENT HAIR LOSS?

I have been treating hair loss in both women and men with PRP for quite some time. And I have had good success with the PRP treatment of the hair.

But one thing right from the start: reversing hair loss with PRP does not work. PRP certainly can’t prevent hair loss forever, either. It would be dubious to promote such claims. But hair loss can be stopped or at least slowed down often with PRP.

HAIR LOSS – a widespread disease

Hair loss can justifiably be called a widespread disease. While most people think of men when they hear the term, hair loss is a particular concern for women as well. Thick hair is still a sign of femininity for women, despite all the recent fashion trends. Light hair is a serious psychological burden for many women. But despite all pharmaceutical research, it has not yet been possible to develop active substances that could stop hair loss in women.

HAIR LOSS CAUSES ARE MOSTLY GENETIC

Studies have shown that 80% of men suffer from hair loss during their lives. And a good 50% of hair loss still affects women. The causes of hair loss are manifold. It is regularly genetically determined. A large part of the research on alopecia therefore also revolves around the question of how hereditary hair loss can be stopped. Often, however, environmental influences such as stress, an unhealthy diet, hormonal disorders or incorrect hair care also play a role. Various home remedies against hair loss target supposed vitamin D or iron deficiency. Mostly without much success, as you would expect. Hardly any of them could actually stop hair loss. While men can be impacted much earlier, hair loss in women usually begins with the menopause. Particularly common forms are hereditary hair loss and circular hair loss.

HEREDITARY HAIR LOSS

Hereditary hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) occurs in about 95% of all cases. This form of hair loss in women and men is known from numerous studies. Hereditary hair loss results from a hypersensitivity of the hair follicles to male sex hormones. The fact that it is genetically predisposed makes it so difficult to develop reliable and, above all, side-effect-free remedies for hereditary hair loss. Age plays an important role in androgenetic alopecia. Most hereditary hair loss begins between the ages of 30 and 40 and then increases with age.

THE COURSE OF Androgenetic alopecia

Hereditary hair loss progresses differently in men and women. In men, the hair on the temples and forehead typically thins out first. The so-called receding hairline forms. In addition, an increasing, circular baldness (tonsure) appears on the upper back of the head. Gradually, the bald patches spread out and finally leave only a ring of hair, which starts at the back of the head and extends over the ears on both sides.

In women, hereditary hair loss is first manifested by a decrease in hair density in the crown area. Increased hair loss is often noticed, for example when brushing the hair or after washing the hair. With age, the hair on the top of the skull becomes thinner and thinner so that the scalp becomes flat. In a minority of cases, hereditary hair loss in women develops in a similar pattern as in men. However, completely bald patches are rare in women.

COMMON CAUSE OF HAIR LOSS: DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE

While hereditary hair loss in women is almost always considered pathological, it occurs so frequently in men at an advanced age that it can almost be considered a normal phenomenon of old age in men. The hair roots develop a hypersensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, a metabolic product of the sex hormone testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone inhibits the growth of the hair follicles and this in turn leads to hair loss and lack of new hair formation.

CIRCULAR HAIR LOSS

Treatment of circular hair loss with PRP injection
Treatment of circular hair loss with PRP injection

While hereditary hair loss can clearly be traced back to hereditary factors, the causes of circular hair loss (alopecia areata) have not yet been conclusively clarified. Circular hair loss affects women and men relatively equally. It even occurs in children. Unlike androgenetic alopecia, circular hair loss is therefore not primarily a question of age.

CIRCULAR HAIR LOSS AS A RESULT OF IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION

The suspected causes of circular hair loss are mainly disorders of the immune system (autoimmune reactions). In this case, a malfunction in the immune system leads to a defence reaction against the patient’s own hair root cells. These become inflamed, which leads to a reduction in hair growth and hair loss. Circular, bald patches appear in the hair, which gives the disease its name.

THE WHOLE BODY CAN BE AFFECTED

Most often, the hair on the head is affected, but also the beard, eyebrows and body hair. In very severe forms, sufferers lose all their body hair (alopecia areata universalis). Circular hair loss typically occurs together with other autoimmune diseases, especially neurodermatitis and vitiligo (white spot disease). This circumstance gives rise to the assumption that an immune disorder is also the cause of circular hair loss.

MINOXIDIL AND FINASTERIDE

As widespread as hereditary hair loss is, a therapy that is as effective as it is risk-free has not yet been discovered. Many hair loss remedies promise miracles in advertising, but fall short of expectations in reality. The internet as well as the cosmetics industry have a rich repertoire of “secret” recipes, well-known remedies, food supplements, tinctures, tablets, and shampoos. And whether in forums or magazines, practically every day someone always has a “new remedy for hair loss” – one that will definitely stop hair loss this time. But the effect of all these remedies regularly turns out to be wishful thinking. Far from the new hair growth suggested in the advertisements, most of them cannot even stop hair loss from progressing.

AGAINST HAIR LOSS – BUT WITH SEVERE SIDE EFFECTS

The two common and clinically proven drug therapies finasteride and minoxidil, on the other hand, often cause unpleasant side effects. This can make their long-term use problematic. Many users discontinue prematurely. For this reason, pharmaceutical companies have been researching for years to find a new hair loss remedy that has few or no side effects.

MINOXIDIL AGAINST HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN

For women, minoxidil is basically the only drug therapy currently available. The preparation is classically applied to the scalp as a solution (2%) or foam (5%). Recently, minoxidil can also be administered orally in a low dosage. It can take several months before the initial visible results are seen, so one has to be patient. Although it is not yet clear exactly how minoxidil works, studies have strongly suggested that it can indeed stop hair loss. However, minoxidil also has some side effects, especially redness, flaking and inflammation of the scalp. In numerous instances, this leads to the treatment being discontinued even before the first results are visible. Hair loss can only be stopped with minoxidil if it is used regularly and for a long time.

FINASTERIDE FOR HAIR LOSS IN MEN

For men with hereditary hair loss, there is also the drug finasteride to take. The active ingredient affects the male hormone balance by preventing the metabolisation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. In this way, finasteride slows down hair loss. In a number of documented cases, it was even possible to stop hair loss and demonstrate new hair growth with finasteride. But finasteride also takes a long time to produce visible results. So, just as with minoxidil, the user has to show patience. Because of its direct intervention in the male hormone balance, finasteride also has a number of highly unpleasant side effects. These include loss of libido and impotence. Cases of gynaecomastia (male breasts) have also been reported. Similar to minoxidil, the dropout rate among users is therefore high.

HAIR TRANSPLANTATION

Hereditary hair loss does not usually lead to complete baldness in men. Instead, a ring of hair remains, which extends from the back of the head to below the temple region. This is because the hair roots in this area are immune to dihydrotestosterone. Hair transplantation tries to take advantage of this by transplanting hair roots from resistant areas of the scalp to bald areas. The idea is that if resistant cells are successfully transplanted, hair loss can be stopped.

HAIR TRANSPLANTATION FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Hair transplant procedures are also available for women, as long as they have sufficient body areas with resistant hair roots. Critical to hair transplantation is the successful transplantation of hair roots to bald areas.  The hair roots must survive in their new environment and continue to produce new hair. To support this process, PRP has also been proven as an adjunctive therapy after transplants, as studies have shown. In the following paragraphs, let’s take a closer look at what PRP is all about and how it can be used to stop hair loss.

TREAT HAIR LOSS WITH PRP

With PRP against hair loss, a real alternative to conventional therapies is available. PRP does not interfere with the hormone balance, but acts directly on the hair root cells. Hair roots in our scalp, like all cells of the human body, depend on a sufficient supply of nutrients via the bloodstream. If the body cannot provide these nutrients, hair loss sets in. A promising therapeutic approach to stop hair loss is therefore based on cell regeneration and nutrient supply of hair roots. At LIPS and SKIN in Munich, I have therefore been treating hair loss with PRP for some time. And quite successfully. PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, which is extracted from a patient’s blood. The treatment with PRP is therefore an autologous blood therapy. I treat hair loss with PRP in both men and women.

SUPPLY NUTRIENTS WITH PRP

Hereditary hair loss is primarily caused by a genetic hypersensitivity to the hormone testosterone, but is also accelerated by an insufficient supply of nutrients to the hair roots. The treatment with PRP starts exactly at this point: it supplies the cells with the required nutrients. In this way, hair loss can be stopped in many cases.

HOW EXACTLY DOES PRP slow HAIR LOSS?

Our blood contains a multitude of different cells that have a wide variety of tasks in the organism. Well-known representatives are the red and white blood cells, which we hear about in biology classes at the latest. Another important cell type is the so-called blood platelets, the thrombocytes. Compared to the other blood cells, thrombocytes are small, disc-shaped cell bodies (hence platelets). Platelets move freely in the bloodstream and play a central role in blood clotting. Platelets contain a lot of growth factors that stimulate new tissue formation and are essential for the wound healing process.

CONCENTRATED PLATELETS – EFFECTIVE AGAINST HAIR LOSS

The effect of PRP against hair loss is based on these platelet growth factors. In particular, there are three suspected causal relationships in the therapy against hair loss:

  1. The increase of locally available fibroblast growth factors, which have a positive effect on the so-called anagen phase. In this phase, hair follicles mature to their maximum size. The anagen phase is decisive for the length growth of the hair in the hair cycle.
  2. The increased formation of Bcl-2 proteins, which delay programmed cell death.
  3. The increased production of beta-catenin, a protein that is centrally involved in the so-called transcription, in which undifferentiated stem cells are converted into functional local cells of a certain type.

However, if the hereditary hair loss is far advanced, then often only hair transplantation can help. PRP cannot replace hair transplantation, but it can support it.

No additives foreign to the body

The success of PRP is based exclusively on the body’s own healing powers, especially the growth factors contained in the platelets. Pharmaceuticals or other additives foreign to the body are consistently avoided. The patient’s own PRP is injected into the scalp with the aim of stimulating cell regeneration in the hair roots. This process of tissue rejuvenation can stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth, as studies have repeatedly shown.

Studies show: PRP can stop Hair loss

Among other things, it has been proven that PRP as a remedy for hair loss promises a high success rate for both circular and androgenetic forms. 80% of the treated men and women reported a noticeably denser hair growth after the PRP treatment. Even more than 90% of the patients observed an increase in hair thickness and a reduction in scalp itching after 3–4 treatments. It also became apparent that hair loss can only be stopped after several treatments and that the earlier the treatment is started, the greater the success.

The widespread assumption that the chances of success in treatment could depend on age or gender, however, was not confirmed by the studies. A study published as recently as March 2019 once again confirmed the good prospects of success of PRP as a remedy for hair loss, particularly in the case of androgenetic alopecia. In a double-blind study on 26 male patients, both increased hair growth and greater hair density were demonstrated. The results were still evident 3 months after treatment. The results were seen even 3 months after treatment, without the continuation of any previous medication (which had been the case in some subjects).

My Prp Experience with Hair loss

My observations from treatments of patients in Munich confirm the study results. A female patient, for example, whom I treated with PRP against hair loss a total of 5 times at intervals of 4 weeks, shows a clear increase in hair density in the (central) crown about 6 months after the start of therapy. The patient has very dark hair, which made the onset of androgenetic hair loss particularly noticeable. The optical impression has clearly improved since the beginning of the therapy, the hair appears thicker, the scalp in the crown no longer stands out so clearly. In our common opinion, we were able to stop her hair loss thanks to PRP.

EXACT MECHANISM OF ACTION UNCLEAR

How exactly PRP works against hair loss has not yet been clearly explained. In particular, no connection has yet been established between the PRP concentration and the increase in hair growth or hair density. Individual therapy protocols are therefore widespread in the specialised medical profession. Therefore, if you are considering such a therapy, you should ask your doctor for detailed information about the specific procedure.

RISKS OF PRP TREATMENT

Since PRP for hair loss does not use any substances that are foreign to the body, there are no serious risks. Allergies and intolerances are almost impossible. However, the general risk of infections cannot be ruled out with injection therapy.

How much does Prp for hair loss cost?

In my practice in Munich, treatment prices start at around 280 euros for a session (indication only, actual costs are billed according to the German Medical Fee Schedule (GOÄ)). As a rule, 3–5 sessions at intervals of 4–6 weeks are necessary for visible success. If several sessions are booked as a package, then more favourable package prices are possible. Refresher treatments are then carried out at yearly or half-yearly intervals.

Attractive at every age

LIPS and SKIN Aesthetic Medicine

Eva Maria Strobl, MD
Herzog-Heinrich-Strasse 34
80336 Munich