Platelet rich plasma is a concentrated solution of platelets which is derived from a patient’s own blood. The platelets themselves are cells which are responsible for helping to form clots after blood vessels are injured which then helps to stop the bleeding.
They are considered a natural and abundant source of growth factors (GF). The major types of these compounds include:
- vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
- platelet derived growth factors (PDGF)
- transforming growth factor – B
The alpha granules are container-like structures within the platelet cells. They serve to hold and release these protein compounds using an “active extrusion” process through the cellular membrane.
Extracting PRP involves drawing the patient’s blood and placing it in a centrifuge machine in order to produce several distinct layers. One of these is the platelet rich plasma where the concentration of platelet cells is 5 to 10 times greater than in the untreated blood. PRP is isolated for its potential to rejuvenate tissues. For the skin, it is applied through a microneedling process in order to reach deeper tissue layers. Due to the usage of the patient’s own blood, this procedure has been nicknamed, the Vampire Facelift.
Here at the Dr.U Hair and Skin Clinics in Los Angeles, Dr.U offers PRP treatments to patients who wish to restore a more youthful state of their skin. Procedures may be combined with other treatment modalities to enhance the overall results.
What are Growth Factors Which Are Present in PRP?
Growth factors are proteins which promote cellular division through chemical signaling pathways within individual cells and among multiple cells. They work by first binding to receptors on the parent, progenitor cells and then activating genes which trigger the formation of new cells.
A simple analogy would be a key (the growth factor protein) and a lock (the receptors on the cells). When the key binds to the lock, it then is able to signal and communicate instructions for various types of processes to occur. Growth factors can tell cells to repair, replicate, grow, divide, produce collagen, construct new elastin fibers and increase blood flow.
The existence of growth factors was discovered in the 1950’s by two scientists who then earned a Nobel Prize for their work in 1986.
These proteins have been used extensively in many areas of medicine, including the musculoskeletal field for the treatment of sports injuries, cardiac surgery, pediatric surgery, opthamology, gynecology and urology. But recently it has garnered more attention for its applications in dermatology for areas like wound healing, scar revision, tissue and skin rejuvenation as well as alopecia.
Growth factors are now taking a place alongside many other widely recommended anti-aging interventions such as sunscreen usage, retinol, anti-oxidants, peptides and alpha-hydroxy acids.
Skin Rejuvenation and Anti-Aging With the Vampire Facelift PRP Growth Factors
PRP is a source of concentrated growth factors and is now being used as a viable approach for rejuvenating the skin. A broader picture of the aging processes in this context, is important for understanding how and why PRP growth factors can be effective for restoring their skin to a more youthful state.
With the lock and key analogy, imagine what happens when there are a fewer number of keys, while the number of cell receptor locks stays the same. This is what starts to happen in our late twenties. Our bodies produce declining quantities of growth factor proteins. With the occurrence of less signaling to induce cell reproduction, repair, and the construction of new collagen and elastin fibers, the skin starts to appear thinner, less plump, with the appearance of lines, wrinkles and even sagging.
The decline of the skin’s natural reparative processes can be made worse through the effects of extensive sun exposure as well as pollution.
Since platelet rich plasma is a source of highly concentrated growth factors, it can potentially revive a comparative level of cellular signaling present in youthful skin.
PRP derived growth factors are now being used in anti-aging treatment modalities, such as the Vampire Facelift . This is due to the cell regenerative properties of GF’s which already play a role in our own inherent natural wound healing processes.
Researchers have analyzed the structural and biochemical changes which occur in aging skin. These include:
- Loss of skin dermal thickness
- Lowered elastin content
- Decreased vascularity
- Reduced fibroblast activity
- Decline in collagen content and production
They have observed that these factors share commonalities with chronic and acute skin wounding. It is believed that the role of growth factors in the healing of skin wounds can be developed and applied to the context of skin rejuvenation.
A small number of controlled research studies have shown that topical growth factors can stimulate the thickening of the epidermis as well as the formation of new collagen. Both phenomena are associated with clinically defined improvements in photo-aging of the skin.
The quest for a more natural looking, youthful glow may have its answers in modern dermatological science through treatments like PRP
Research on the Usage of Growth Factors for Photoaged Skin
In one study, Topical Growth Factors for the Treatment of Facial Photoaging, researchers observed the effects of four growth factor types applied to the face through microneedling of patients with signs of premature aging due to chronic sun exposure.
The author hypothesize that topically applied growth factors achieves three primary objectives for reversing the effects of UV damage on the skin.
- Inducing the formation of the extracellular matrix
- Promote the proliferation of two important skin cells, fibroblasts and keratinocytes
- Reduce overall signs of photoaging
The study was performed on eight subjects with Fitzpatrick skin types III or IV. They each received 2mL of a growth factor mixture following the microneedling of their skin surface. A total of 3 treatments were performed, 10 days apart from one another.
The overall effectiveness of the growth factors were assessed using two approaches. An independent physician evaluated before and after photos of the patients and rated the images according to the Fitzpatrick wrinkle scale. The patients themselves were also asked to answer a questionnaire about their final outcome.
According to the physician assessment, 7 out of the 8 patients showed skin improvements in terms of fine lines, wrinkles and texture, particularly in the periorbial area.
Based on questionnaire responses, all subjects felt that their texture improved. Four out of the eight individuals believed that their wrinkles were reduced.
The researchers concluded hat the topical application of growth factors is capable of reversing signs of photoaging in terms of both texture and the appearance of lines.
According to a different publication, clinical studies performed in vitro suggest that cosmetic beauty products which include growth factors, cytokines and matrikines enabled the skin to produce new collagen as well as various extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules and actually rejuvenate tissue.
Study on Platelet Rich Plasma Usage on Sun Damaged Facial Skin
Whereas the previous study above investigated a combination of different growth factors, a different study, published in JAMA Dermatology, entitled, Effect of Platelet Rich Plasma Injection for Rejuvenation of Photoaged Facial Skin looked more specifically at the usage of PRP.
The clinical trial was conducted in a randomized fashion on a sample of 27 participants. Subjects received either injections of PRP or saline. The researchers were interested in observing effects on two particular dimensions, color and texture.
Six months after a single treatment, the subjects who received the PRP treatment displayed significant improvement in the texture of their skin which was found to be less wrinkled and rough.
Research on The Effects of PRP on Collagen Production
While the above study points out that treatment with platelet rich plasma injections can benefit sun damaged skin, additional research takes a closer look at whether or not PRP can improve the production of collagen.
In a related cosmetic dermatology study, researchers observed the effects of PRP specifically on human dermal fibroblast cells. They found that PRP is able to stimulate the proliferation of this skin cell type and actually increase the synthesis of collagen type 1.
The findings of another study, published in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, illustrate that PRP is also able to enhance other areas of skin renewal. These include: soft tissue augmentation, the formation of adipose tissue as well as new blood vessels.
If you are in the greater Los Angeles area and would like to consider a PRP procedure performed by Dr.U, click the button below.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.How long does a PRP procedure take?
A PRP procedure for the skin usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour
2. When can I start to see the results of my PRP treatment
Results can start to become more apparent after several treatments, usually between 2-4. Exact time frames will depend on many different variables related to the extent of skin aging initially present and individual physiological factors of the patient.
3. Can PRP be used together with other forms of skin rejuvenation treatment modalities?
Yes, here at the Dr.U Hair and Skin Clinics, we are able to combine other forms of treatment with a PRP procedure. These may include the use of hyaluronic acid and/or amnion fluid which can help improve collagen formation in the skin.