What is PRP?
Plasma is a part of your blood that contains unique "factors," or proteins, that help your blood to clot. It also includes proteins that support cell growth. Scientists have produced PRP by isolating plasma from blood and concentrating it.
The concept is that injecting PRP into damaged tissues will stimulate your body to grow new, healthy cells and promote healing. Because the tissue growth factors are more concentrated in the prepared growth injections, researchers believe the body's tissues may heal quicker.
What are the purposes of PRP injections?
Researchers are testing PRP injections across a variety 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 work in treating androgenic alopecia, also referred to as male pattern baldness.
- Tendon injuries– Tendons are tough, thick bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. They are typically slow to heal after injury. Physicians have used PRP injections to treat chronic tendon problems, such as tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis at the ankle, and jumper's knee, which produces 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– In some cases doctors use PRP injections after surgery to fix 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 might help people with osteoarthritis. A 2015 study found that PRP injections were more effective than hyaluronic acid injections (a conventional therapy) for treating osteoarthritis. However, the trial was a small group of 160 individuals, so larger trials are needed for this to be conclusive.
How do you prepare for PRP injections?
There are few steps to preparing for PRP injections. These steps depend on how you receive PRP.
PRP can be injected in different ways. For example, occasionally a topical numbing lidocaine solution is applied to your scalp before 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 minimize any discomfort. Sometimes, Dr. Williamson will inject or apply PRP during surgery. In this instance, preparation for PRP injections would involve following your surgeon's recommendations prior to surgery.
You'll likely need to stop taking particular medications that thin your blood, like aspirin and ibuprofen, before you get PRP injections. You may also need 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 does not usually cause significant side effects. But since it includes drawing blood, if Dr. Williamson suggests it - you'll want to make sure you eat before the treatment. That will help you avoid feeling lightheaded when you get PRP injections.
You can not receive PRP injections if you have:
- Abnormal platelet function or a low platelet count
- An infection
- PRP injection process
Here's what to anticipate 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 a little larger than one teaspoon.
- The blood is placed into a centrifuge. This device spins around very fast, causing the blood components to separate. The separation process takes about 15 minutes.
- A technologist takes the separated plasma and prepares it for injection into the affected area.
- Physicians will often use 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 involves injecting a substance into the skin, there are potential side effects.
PRP is autologous, which means it contains substances that come directly from your own body. This lowers the risks for an allergic reaction that can occur from injecting other medications, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid. However, there are risks from the injection itself, including:
- nerve injuries
- pain at the injection site
- tissue damage
You should discuss these potential risks with Dr. Williamson, as well as 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. The majority of people can continue their daily activities after PRP injections.
Because PRP injections are intended to promote healing or growth, you might not observe an immediate difference after receiving the injections. However, in a few weeks or months, the area may start healing quicker or growing more hair than you would have anticipated if you had not gotten PRP injections.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) in La Mesa, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!