Even before Covid, the fast paced modern life has been stressful enough. This stress alongside factors like environmental changes, pollution and poor lifestyle choices has made sure that the number of adults undergoing premature hair loss has been increasing every single year. And the unfortunate thing about hair loss is that it not only affects the aesthetic appearance of a person but also affects their confidence level, their social interactions and a lot more.
So, what qualifies as hair loss and when should you be worried?
The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for alarm. Each follicle of hair has its own life cycle that divided into three phases:
- Growth Phase
- Resting Phase &
- Falling Phase
At any given time, about 90 per cent of the hair on a person’s scalp is in growing phase and hence hair that falls is limited in quantity and does not qualify to be called ‘hair loss’. But when the lifecycle of the hair follicle is disturbed by any of the factors mentioned above, it can often cause more hair to be in resting or falling phase and hence we see increased fall of hair which is then called ‘hair loss’.
From eggs and onion seed oil to something more scientific and medical
To address this concern of hair loss there are now a plethora of solutions available in the market ranging from sensible and scientific to outright ridiculous. Hence, a simple piece of advice is that always speak to your dermatologist before starting any hair repair or hair rejuvenation treatment.
A typical line of treatment when you visit a dermatologist will begin with a prescription of medications and topical solutions to be applied to your scalp which are proven to revitalize your hair and promote new hair follicle growth. If this line of action has limited results, a dermatologist will guide you to undergo a PRP treatment.
What exactly is PRP and how does it help?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. Platelets are the component of blood which help in healing wounds and injuries. Check out these facts –
- It consists of growth factors which are nothing but certain proteins in your body that help stimulate cell growth and regeneration.
- Platelet rich plasma is a solution that is made from your own blood but which has a very high density of growth factor proteins.
- As the term “platelet-rich plasma” suggests, platelets are generally about 4-5 times more concentrated in PRP than in regular blood.
- Activation of alpha granules of platelets releases growth factors like (VEGF, TGF, PDGF, EGF) that are known to assist in wound healing and tissue regrowth.
- Also, growth factors released from platelets act on stem cells in the bulge area of the follicles, stimulating the development of new hair follicles and promoting neovascularization (new blood vessel formation).
- It thus helps in new hair growth and reduces hair fall.
Is PRP the right solution for your hair loss?
PRP has shown very good effects in patients who suffer from the following types of hair loss:
- Male and female pattern Balding
- Telogen Effluvium (acute hair fall)
- Anagen effluvium (hair loss due to chemotherapy or other drugs)
It is best to speak to your dermatologist about the exact nature of your hair loss and if you are a candidate for PRP therapy.
All about the PRP therapy
A PRP hair therapy procedure can be typically split into two parts.
- The first part is where a small amount (10 to 20 ml) of blood is collected from the patient and PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is generated from the same.
- The second part is where this PRP is injected into the scalp after the scalp has been numbed with an anaesthetic cream.
The procedure is painless with very little post procedure care and literally no down time. That is, a person can schedule a procedure like this in the middle of the day and go back to routine immediately after the procedure.
The entire process takes about 60 to 90 minutes.
Are the results permanent? How frequently do you need to do this?
PRP is used in conjunction with oral medication and topical applications to boost hair growth. Unfortunately, hair loss can be a hereditary condition in which once medications and topical applications stop a person can possibly start losing hair again. But this is not the case for every patient, and it is a good idea to discuss your specific problem with the hair specialist you consult.
I personally recommend that a patient should start with 4 to 6 sessions spaced 3 weeks apart to begin with. In this time period, and after as many sessions, the exact effect of PRP on the patient is well established. Post this, I recommend a session of PRP every 6 to 12 months on a case to case basis as a booster.
This procedure sounds scary Is it safe?
PRP is as natural a procedure as it gets. In which case, your own blood and your own body’s healing system is used to stimulate hair growth. PRP does not pose any danger of allergy, hypersensitivity or foreign-body reaction. Since it is an autologous preparation (prepared from patient’s own blood) there is no chance of getting any cross reaction. The only possible observed side effect is a mild headache which settles within 24 hours.
Who should avoid PRP therapy?
Patients who have an active infection in the scalp, any clotting disorder, platelet dysfunction or any active patches of chronic skin diseases should avoid PRP. But most people do not fall in these categories and when you speak to a hair expert like a dermatologist, the doctor will ensure a full health history and ensure your safety always.
In conclusion, if you are undergoing hair loss and if it bothers you, I would encourage you to speak to your doctor about PRP and if this is the right solution for you.
(This article is authored by Dr. Sejal Saheta, Dermatology and Venereology)