Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP):
Blood is mainly a liquid (called plasma), it also contains small solid components (red cells, white cells, and platelets.) The platelets are best known for their importance in clotting blood. However, platelets also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which are very important in the healing of injuries.
PRP is plasma with many more platelets than what is typically found in blood. The concentration of platelets and, thereby, the concentration of growth factors — can be 5 to 10 times greater (or richer) than usual.
To develop a PRP preparation, blood must first be drawn from a patient. The platelets are separated from other blood cells and their concentration is increased during a process called centrifugation. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood.
How Does PRP Work?
Although it is not exactly clear how PRP works, laboratory studies have shown that the increased concentration of growth factors in PRP can potentially speed up the healing process.
To speed healing, the injury site is treated with the PRP preparation. This can be done in one of two ways:
►PRP can be carefully injected into the injured area. For example, in Achilles tendonitis, a condition commonly seen in runners and tennis players, the heel cord can become swollen, inflamed, and painful. A mixture of PRP and local anesthetic can be injected directly into this inflamed tissue. Afterwards, the pain at the area of injection may actually increase for the first week or two, and it may be several weeks before the patient feels a beneficial effect.
►PRP may also be used to improve healing after surgery for some injuries. For example, an athlete with a completely torn heel cord may require surgery to repair the tendon. Healing of the torn tendon can possibly be improved by treating the injured area with PRP during surgery. This is done by preparing the PRP in a special way that allows it to actually be stitched into torn tissues.
How Long Does the Procedure Take and last?
The procedure typically takes a couple of hours, including preparation and recovery time. Performed safely in a medical office, PRP therapy relieves pain without the risks of surgery, general anesthesia, or hospital stays and without a prolonged recovery. In fact, most people return to their jobs or usual activities right after the procedure.
At the moment the effect seems to last about two years. Obviously there will be variations from one person to the next on this. Initially it was felt the effects and length of benefit would be better in younger patients with younger cells to work with. But with platelet rich plasma therapy, as with non-ablative laser treatments, effects can be very good in people one would consider older.
Is It Effective?
Effectiveness to evaluate the PRP therapy can vary. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of PRP treatment include:
►The area of the body being treated
►The overall health of the patient
►Whether the injury is acute or chronic
Can The Treatment Be Repeated?
There is no reason that platelet rich plasma - PRP - therapies could not be repeated. As you are using your own tissue there is no problem with continued use. Some people elect to do a single session each year to boost and lengthen the effect of the initial group of treatments.