For men and women experiencing the first signs of hair loss, it can be a very difficult thing to go through. Rather than feeling resigned or helpless, further hair loss need not be an inevitability. Steps can be taken to stop this process, and even reverse it, without the need for painful surgery or downtime. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments are performed here at California Dermatology Care and represent a safe and effective solution for hair loss. Because the growth factors used are isolated from the patient’s own blood, this is also the most natural treatment that can heal damaged hair follicles and support renewed hair growth. Dr. William Ting and the team here at California Dermatology Care are pleased to offer this solution to patients in Northern California.
WHAT CAUSES HAIR LOSS?
Hair growth and loss happen in cycles. Naturally, the average person sheds 100 hairs a day, but others experience more rapid hair loss that the body cannot keep up with. This can happen due to factors like aging, stress or an underlying illness, but many people experience hair loss at an earlier age as a result of genetics.
Genetic hair loss is responsible for male pattern baldness, otherwise known as androgenic alopecia. This type of hair loss occurs due to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shortens the anagen phase of active hair growth and causes affected follicles to weaken and shrink in a process called miniaturization. Those who are more sensitive to the effects of DHT often notice a gradual thinning of hair that starts at the temples and crown of the head, creating the kind of hair loss we recognize as male pattern baldness.
While typically associated with men, women can also experience genetic hair loss. Female pattern baldness is also hereditary, but this type of hair loss is more diffuse and usually begins at the top of the head, widening through the center hair part. The front hairline and temples are typically unaffected. It can be more difficult to diagnose genetic hair loss in women due to a number of factors — such as pregnancy, hormonal changes and thyroid disorders — that could contribute to the problem. Because hair loss is just as devastating in women as in men, identifying any underlying conditions is crucial to developing an effective treatment plan.
For those who are prone to male or female pattern baldness, the hair can begin to thin at a young age. Men with the “balding gene” tend to notice hair loss in their 20s or 30s, while women are usually affected sometime after menopause.
OTHERS CAUSES FOR HAIR LOSS
Anything that interferes with the hair growth cycle can cause significant hair loss.
Since each person’s physiological makeup is unique, hair loss can occur for any number of reasons. The effects of fluctuating hormone levels, stress, and even poor nutrition account for thinning hair over time. Life events and physical changes, such as aging, pregnancy, illness and certain medications further increase the likelihood of continued hair loss. For patients who have undergone chemotherapy, they may also notice that after their recovery, their hair does not grow back the same as it once did.
Hair growth also depends on a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen from the blood vessels that feed the scalp. As the body ages, nutrient and oxygen supplies decline as blood vessels weaken and start to die off. PRP treatment can help reduce rates of hair loss by jumpstarting the hair growth process while stimulating blood flow to the scalp.
TYPES OF HAIR LOSS
This is the type of hair loss that results in male or female pattern baldness. When it affects men, hair loss typically occurs in an ‘M’ shape, starting at the temples and crown of the head. It results in visible bald spots and a receding hairline. In women, this particular kind of hair loss is more diffuse and affects the top of the head, causing thinning and widening of the hair part. Androgenic alopecia is genetic, so if a family member experienced this type of hair loss, you are likely to as well. Genetic hair loss happens gradually and can’t be prevented, but it can be treated.
- Gradual onset
- Receding hairline in men
- Distinct ‘M’ shape of hair loss in men
- Thinning or widening of the hair part in women
- Hair becomes shorter and finer over time
- More likely to occur if a family member has the same condition
Telogen effluvium is hair loss caused by stress. It is typically short-lived and occurs during the resting, or telogen, phase of hair growth. Normally, between 5 to 10 percent of hair follicles are in the resting phase, but too much stress can cause upwards of 30 percent to enter this stage prematurely. This results in a higher amount of dormant hair follicles and increased shedding. Telogen effluvium can be caused by severe stress, illness, drastic weight loss, childbirth, physical or psychological trauma and other triggers that “shock” the body. The most effective way to address this type of hair loss is by identifying the underlying cause, but some treatments can help normalize the hair growth cycle.
- Reduced hair volume
- Increased hair shedding
- More hair than usual in shower drains or hairbrushes
- Generalized thinning rather than patches of hair loss
- Temporary; hair can regrow
Alopecia areata is hair loss caused by an autoimmune disorder. With this condition, an overactive immune system attacks the hair follicles. Unlike the more gradual effects of male or female pattern baldness, alopecia areata can happen suddenly and result in unpredictable, patchy areas of hair loss, typically on the head. It can also impact hair growth on other parts of the body, such as the face, chest or legs. Anyone can develop this condition, but genetics do appear to play a role. While the exact cause of alopecia areata isn’t clear, there are treatments available to help promote hair growth and improve the health of the hair follicles.
- Sudden, patchy hair loss
- Unpredictable patterns of hair loss
- Brittle fingernails
- Hair loss may occur on other areas of the body
HOW DOES PRP TREATMENT WORK?
The body’s circulatory system supplies growth factors to all areas of the body. These substances are required for the stimulation of growth in living cells, and naturally repair and regenerate the body from the cellular level up. Your bloodstream also delivers anti-inflammatory agents to ward off cell damage, although these levels go down as we age. The platelet-rich plasma system uses blood drawn from the patient, which is then spun in a centrifuge to create a highly concentrated solution of growth factors and anti-inflammatory agents. During PRP treatments, this solution is delivered directly into areas of the scalp that need it most, helping to combat the effects of hair loss.
PRP treatments also help to regenerate damaged blood vessels in the scalp, thereby restoring oxygen and nutrient supplies. These restore healthy hair growth cycles in turn, which boosts hair growth and reduces rates of hair loss. Both men and women of various ages can benefit from the restorative effects of PRP treatment.
Studies have found PRP treatments to be effective in treating genetic hair loss and alopecia areata. By stimulating and nourishing the hair follicles, this technique helps to generate new hair growth and improve the health of existing hair. PRP treatments can also help normalize the growth cycle of those experiencing stress-related hair loss, making hair grow back quicker than it would on its own. During your consultation, Dr. Ting will examine your scalp and degree of hair loss to determine if this treatment is right for you.
HOW DOES PRP TREATMENT HELP RESTORE MY HAIR?
PRP TREATMENT EFFECTS ON THE HAIR GROWTH CYCLE
An estimated 100,000 hair follicles exist on each healthy scalp, with each follicle growing around 20 hairs within a person’s lifetime. The hair growth cycle consists of three stages. The first stage is the anagen or growth stage, which typically lasts for two to six years. During this phase, hair is actively growing and the follicle root is nourished by your blood.
The second stage is the catagen or transitional stage, which occurs after a period of growth. The stage only lasts for a few weeks, during which time the hair follicle detaches from its blood supply and begins to shed. Your body sends a signal that prompts this process.
The third and final stage of hair growth is the telogen or resting stage. In this phase, hair finally sheds and the follicle becomes dormant. This occurs at the end of each growth cycle and lasts for two to three months. Hair follicles will continue to rest until the next anagen phase begins. It is completely normal for hair to shed in the telogen stage.
Each hair growth cycle can last anywhere between four to six years. PRP treatments lengthen the active growth stage of the hair cycle. During this time, the growth factors repair not just the underlying blood vessels in the scalp, but the hair follicle structures as well. A longer growth stage allows more hair to grow, allowing for thicker and denser coverage. This increase in hair growth reduces the appearance of thinning hair when the shedding portion of the cycle rolls around, helping to keep the signs of hair loss at bay.
PRP TREATMENT BENEFITS
Platelet-rich plasma therapy offers a wide range of benefits for patients. Much of the problem with hair loss comes from the breakdown of hair follicle structures, meaning they’re unable to grow hair at the usual rate. Directly delivered into the scalp, PRP is able to supply the nutrients and protections needed for hair follicles to function, and function well.
Other benefits of PRP treatment include:
- No risk of allergic reaction as the platelet-rich plasma comes from the patient’s body
- Simple, non-surgical procedure
- Little to no pain or discomfort experienced during the procedure
- Procedure takes less than an hour to complete
- Natural-looking results
- Results can be enhanced or maintained with ongoing treatments
WHAT’S INVOLVED WITH THE PROCEDURE?
PRP treatments are performed in-office without any surgery, general anesthesia or downtime. First, one to two syringes of blood is drawn from the patient’s arm. Using a medical centrifuge device, we will then separate the desired plasma solution from the other components of the blood to create a concentrated PRP serum.
Numbing cream or local anesthesia can be applied to the scalp to reduce any pain or discomfort. The PRP serum is then injected directly into the areas of the scalp where thinning is present. These small, surface-level injections are made at half-inch intervals across the treatment areas. Once completed, you can continue on with your day as usual since no sedatives or medications are used during the procedure.
WHEN CAN I EXPECT TO SEE RESULTS?
For optimal results, Dr. Ting recommends receiving three PRP treatments, spread across a three-month period. Depending on how your body responds, maintaining these results will mean touch-up treatments can be scheduled every six months to a year. Consistency is important to ensure your hair follicles remain healthy.
While each person’s scalp will respond to PRP therapy in different ways, most patients can still expect to see these results:
- A reduction in hair shedding within the first three months
- A healthier scalp
- Thicker, fuller hair by the fourth month
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR PRP TREATMENTS?
The effects of PRP can be seen on active hair follicles. When hair begins to thin, this is a sign that hair follicles are beginning to die off. For this reason, it’s best to get started with platelet-rich plasma treatment at the very first signs of hair loss. While this procedure can still help in some cases of later-stage hair loss, it will take much longer to see noticeable results for these patients, and more treatments will be required to make a significant difference.
PRP treatment can also work well for individuals who’ve recently had a hair transplant procedure done, or are thinking of doing one. PRP’s healing and restorative effects make the scalp a more hospitable environment for newly transplanted hair, increasing the likelihood of a successful transplant.
CAN PRP THERAPY BE COMBINED WITH OTHER TREATMENTS?
Hair loss is a complicated condition, and sometimes more than one approach is needed for the best possible results. Fortunately, PRP therapy is an extremely safe and effective option that can be combined with other hair loss solutions to help you achieve a fuller head of hair.
At California Dermatology Care, we offer a wide range of options for reversing the effects of hair loss, including topical or oral medications like minoxidil and finasteride, Excimer laser therapy, corticosteroids, and DPCP treatment. During your consultation, Dr. Ting will determine the type of hair loss you’re experiencing and recommend the best treatment, or combination of treatments, that’s right for you.
While no one treatment is right for everyone, the best way to find out if PRP is suitable for you is by scheduling a one-on-one consultation with a qualified dermatology team. Call California Dermatology Care at 925-328-0255 today, and schedule a meeting with us to find out if PRP is the solution you’ve been looking for.
*Patient education matters to us. The information on this page has been reviewed by the board-certified dermatologists of California Dermatology Care. If you have any questions about our procedures or treatments, please get in touch with us today.View Before & After Photos