What Is PRP?
Plasma is a component of your blood that contains special "factors," or proteins, that help your blood to clot. It also includes proteins that support cell growth. Researchers have produced PRP by separating plasma from blood and concentrating it.
The concept is that injecting PRP into damaged tissues will trigger your body to grow new, healthy cells and promote healing. Since the tissue growth factors are more concentrated in the prepared growth injections, researchers believe the body's tissues might heal faster.
What are the purposes of PRP injections?
Researchers are trying PRP injections across a number of applications. Examples of these include:
- Hair loss– Physicians have injected PRP into the scalp to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. According to research from 2014, PRP injections are effective in treating androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
- Tendon injuries– Tendons are tough, thick bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. They are usually slow to heal after injury. Doctors have used PRP injections to treat chronic tendon issues, such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis at the ankle, and jumper's knee, which causes pain in the patellar tendon in the knee.
- Acute injuries– Doctors have used PRP injections to treat acute sports injuries, such as pulled hamstring muscles or knee sprains.
- Postsurgical repair– Sometimes physicians use PRP injections after surgery to repair a torn tendon (such as a rotator cuff tendon in the shoulder) or ligaments (such as the anterior cruciate ligament).
- Osteoarthritis– PRP injections in the knee may help individuals with osteoarthritis. A 2015 study found that PRP injections were more effective than hyaluronic acid injections (a conventional treatment) for treating osteoarthritis. However, the trial was a small group of 160 individuals, so larger trials are needed for this to be definitive.
How do you prepare for PRP injections?
There are few steps to preparing for PRP injections. These steps depend on how you get PRP.
PRP can be injected in various ways. For instance, sometimes a topical numbing lidocaine solution is applied to your scalp prior to injection. You may have to arrive early to a therapy session if this is the case.
Other times, a local anesthetic is combined with the PRP to reduce any discomfort. Sometimes, Dr. Williamson will inject or apply PRP during surgery. In this case, preparation for PRP injections would include following your surgeon's recommendations prior to surgery.
You'll likely need to quit taking particular medications that thin your blood, like aspirin and ibuprofen, before you receive PRP injections. You might also have to take a break from certain vitamins or supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Dr. Williamson can advise you exactly what you need to do to prepare for these shots.
PRP doesn't typically result in major side effects. But because it includes drawing blood, if Dr. Williamson suggests it - you'll want to make sure you eat prior to the procedure. That will help you avoid feeling lightheaded when you receive PRP injections.
You can not get PRP injections if you have:
- Abnormal platelet function or a low platelet count
- An infection
PRP injection procedure
Here's what to expect from a normal PRP injection process:
- A healthcare professional will draw a sample of your blood. The amount of the sample depends on where the PRP will be injected. For example, the amount of blood taken for injection into the scalp for one study was 20 milliliters. This is slightly larger than one teaspoon.
- The blood is placed into a centrifuge. This device spins around very quickly, causing the blood components to separate. The separation process takes around 15 minutes.
- A technologist takes the separated plasma and prepares it for injection into the affected area.
- Doctors will often utilize imaging, such as ultrasound, to pinpoint particular areas for injection, such as the tendon. Dr. Williamson will then inject the PRP into the affected area.
What are the possible side effects of PRP?
Since PRP requires injecting a substance into the skin, there are potential side effects.
PRP is autologous, which means it includes substances that come straight from your own body. This minimizes the risks for an allergic reaction that can occur from injecting other medications, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid. Nevertheless, there are risks from the injection itself, including:
- nerve injuries
- pain at the injection site
- tissue damage
You should go over these possible risks with Dr. Williamson, in addition to the steps they will take to reduce these risks.
What is the recovery time for PRP injections?
When PRP is injected after an injury, Dr. Williamson might suggest that you rest the affected area. However, these suggestions are more related to the injury and less to the PRP injections. Most individuals can continue their day-to-day activities after PRP injections.
Because PRP injections are meant to promote healing or growth, you may not observe an immediate difference after getting the injections. However, in several weeks or months, the area might start healing faster or growing more hair than you would have anticipated if you hadn't received PRP injections.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) in Rancho Santa Fe, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!