Growth factors in platelet-rich plasma (PRP) have been used to help soft tissue healing since the mid-1990’s. Recently, researchers have started to look at whether or not the growth factors in PRP might also help to reverse male– and female-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).
Evidence that PRP may help to reverse this type of hair loss was found in a 2014 pilot study, “Platelet-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia” published in Dermatologic Surgery. In this study, researchers observed at least some noticeable improvement in 64 patients with androgenetic alopecia. Moreover, 47% of those patients experienced at least moderate to very good improvement, a level that the researchers defined as “clinically important.”
Platelet-Rich Plasma Possible Role in Hair Growth
Ongoing research has suggested various mechanisms by which PRP could reverse pattern baldness. For example, using human hair follicles in both cell cultures and in mice models, a 2011 study found that PRP was able to stimulate the proliferation of human dermopapillar cells, which in turn protected hair follicles cells from apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death. Additionally, this study suggested that PRP may be able to stimulate hair growth by prolonging the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle. More recently, a 2012 study found that PRP treatment significantly increased hair diameter.
Platelet-Rich Plasma for Androgenetic Alopecia: a Pilot Study
In order to better verify whether PRP could be a useful treatment for androgenetic alopecia, researchers used two treatments of PRP separated over a period of three months. Three months after the second treatment there was improvement in almost all the patients as demonstrated by an increase in hair thickness and/or more hairs, and 47% of the patients had at least moderate to very-good improvement. Patients with the most severe hair loss saw the greatest amount of improvement. Interestingly, both men and women in all age groups responded equally well to the PRP treatment.
Limitations of this Pilot Study
A limitation of the study was that each patient served as his or her own control. To more reliably test whether PRP therapy has clinical benefit for androgenetic alopecia, future studies will need to control for any spontaneous improvement by randomly assigning patients to separate treatment and control groups.
In addition, the data indicated that a retreatment with PRP at 10 to 12 months after an initial treatment may be advisable; however, a prolonged, more systematic observation on a larger number of patients would be needed to establish a reliable retreatment schedule.
In sum, this pilot study provides some preliminary evidence that PRP therapy may provide clinical advantage to patients with mild to moderate male or female pattern baldness.
- Schiavone G, Raskovic D, Greco J, Abeni D. Platelet-rich plasma for androgenetic alopecia: a pilot study. Dermatol Surg. 2014 Sep; 40(9):1010-9. [↩]
- Takikawa M, Nakamura S, Nakamura S, Ishirara M, Kishimoto S, Sasaki K, Yanagibayashi S, Azuma R, Yamamoto N, Kiyosawa T. Enhanced effect of platelet-rich plasma containing a new carrier on hair growth.Dermatol Surg. 2011 Dec;37(12):1721-9. [↩]
- Li ZJ, Choi HI, Choi DK, Sohn KC, et al. Autologous platelet-rich plasma: a potential therapeutic tool for promoting hair growth. Dermatol Surg 2012;38:1040–6. [↩]