by Sara Wasserbauer, M.D.
At our clinic we have been using Acell+ PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections to help the growth of the native hair in areas of loss. ACell (also known as MatriStem) is a product that is known to help wound healing. PRP is your own blood product with a higher concentration (3-5X) of growth factors that seem to stimulate the hair follicle (among other uses). They are both common treatments in other areas of medicine (eg. dental, dermatology, other surgical specialties including plastic/reconstructive surgery), but it is only recently that they have started to be used and combined in hair loss medicine.
This combination injection therapy has shown some early success in regrowing hair that is early in the hair loss process (i.e. before the scalp has lost the majority of its hair) and in helping both healing and regrowth post-operatively (i.e. after a hair transplant procedure). Good clinical data for hair growth as a result of ACell and PRP hair regrowth injections is still in the works, so the duration of the effect, dosing, and which patients it works best for are all still unknown, which is why any use of this treatment should still be considered experimental. However, there seem to be no adverse reactions other than mild pain or bleeding at the injection sites, and the whole treatment takes under two hours. It does not require a long recovery period (i.e. no more so than a dental visit). Some hair surgeons have found that a second series of injections about 6 months after the first is beneficial, but a single treatment may also have good results by itself.
Since this use of PRP and ACell (MatriStem) is not yet fully tested, it is impossible to know how much of an effect it would have. It is not likely to be detrimental and may in fact help growth which is why we are now offering this treatment more regularly (instead of only in special cases). That being said, in some patients there are great results and in others the results are not as significant. We perform extensive measurements of the hair and take photos before and after to track the progress of our patients closely. Despite the lack of high-quality trial data, results from clinical studies have been encouraging, and PRP administration remains an attractive strategy given its cost-effective and minimally invasive nature.
We have included a list of references (they are very technical – sorry!) for those of you who might like to read up on this relatively new treatment. If you are interested in Acell/PRP injections, you should meet with Dr. Wasserbauer to get her opinion on whether or not this treatment has a good chance of helping you and to review the pros and cons. We look forward to seeing the results of the new application of this treatment in hair and to watching the science continue to evolve!
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