What is Platelet Rich Plasma? (PRP)
MedClub® Physician House Calls West Palm Beach
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and how does it work? There is a lot of buzz about treatments with PRP right now. From Kardashians Vampire Facial® which uses PRP to injured athletes’ getting PRP treatment for their injuries, there is a lot of talk about this treatment. Let’s take a second to talk about what it actually is and how it works. First, in our blood there are different cells floating around. The one everyone is most familiar with is Red Blood Cells. Their primary job is to carry oxygen to our body so we can live. They have no function in PRP therapy. Then there are our leukocytes or White Blood Cells. Their major role is to protect our health from infections, neoplasm, etc. Then a not as well-known player in our blood is platelets. These little cells are cells with no nucleus and have an oval shape. When you get cut, it is platelets that come in to the rescue and help you to form a clot…but that is not all the little guys do. Inside platelets are granules that contain many things but one of the most important for this discussion are growth factors. What do growth factors do? They tell the body to regenerate tissue that was injured in the area. They can call in these progenitor cells make anything from blood vessels to collagen. If you are saying to yourself “great…that helps me understand what?” just keep with me for a second. These platelets help us to regenerate healthy tissue. So PRP or platelet rich therapy is designed to take these cells, concentrate them, and reinject them to give them a specific task.
Backing up just a second, the first part of the procedure no matter where they are to be injected is a blood draw. Once we have your blood, we put in into a machine that rotates the blood in a circle real fact called a centrifuge. This makes all the heavy cells to go to the bottom of the tubes. Our heavier cells are red blood cells. After the centrifuge stops, the blood is separated into visible layers. The bottom has a dark red appearance and the top has a translucent yellow appearance. The top yellow part is aspirated (sucked up in the syringe). This part is called the serum of your blood. During this process, the top layer of red blood cells are taken as well so we don’t leave any of the platelets behind. The red blood cells are thrown away and the yellow serum is put into new test tubes and put back into the centrifuge again. It spins the serum and when it is done all the heavy cells create a cluster on the bottom of the tube (we call this cluster the button). This is where all the good stuff is. We take the top third or so of clear serum out and discard it and then swirl the test tube to suspend the button into the serum. When done, this serum is considered PRP or platelet rich plasma and is ready to be injected.
Once injected the platelets release the appropriate growth factors to help rebuild healthy tissue and breakdown the unhealthy parts. So what does that mean? That means that if someone has decreased sensitivity whether it is from an injury or from birth, it will increase blood flow to the area and increase sensation. It also will hon in on injuries either torn muscles, strained backs, torn cartilage, etc and rebuild as best as it can. It can help with pain, injuries, volume loss in the face from aging, etc. What are the risk? The only real risk is injection site risk that go with any injection. Since the platelets come from YOUR own blood, there is NO risk of rejection. It is a way to guide your body to fix itself. Pretty cool? We think so!