There have been a number of important developments in the platelet-rich plasma world during the past several months, warranting a new post on the subject.
— In late March, the famous patient advocate Joe Tillman published a very interesting video on his first ever PRP treatment with Dr. Jerry Cooley. Joe told me that he will give us an update on his results in the near future. Below is his first highly instructive video. I love the centrifuge part:
I still do not think that PRP will usually grow new hair (as has also been verified by some hair transplant surgeons), but it can often prevent baldness from progressing as rapidly, and it can without a doubt make existing hair thicker. Why do I say this? Because at this point I have seen favorable studies from way too many countries to dismiss this oftentimes still controversial subject. Make sure to see a list of these studies in my 2014 post on how well PRP works to regrow hair, which I update whenever I find new studies.
— Dr. Jeffry Rapaport has a knack for frequently appearing in various respected US TV shows. The below video (now taken away it seems) is from just a few days ago. Unlike many other US physicians who just go on TV for publicity, I feel like Dr. Rapaport comes across as much more sincere. Moreover, he only charges $500 per PRP treatment. Much more ethical than physicians who often charge over $2,000 for a treatment that is far from guaranteed to work.
— Finally, although not related to hair loss, today it was confirmed that the currently injured NBA MVP Stephen Curry got PRP treatment on his right knee in order to try to speed up recovery. Kobe Bryant did the same thing in the past before his achilles tendon rupture. As more superstar athletes get PRP treatment, it can indirectly benefit hair loss sufferers via more research money flowing into this field.
At the beginning of this year I wrote a very lengthy post concerning the cure for grey hair. In that post, I mentioned Dr. Carlos Wesley’s recent surprising forum thread on how platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can return hair to its original darker color. I found this very surprising, since PRP is not known to grow back hair that has been gone for many years, so how could it make grey or white hair darker?
If PRP cannot bring back long destroyed hair follicle stem cells, how can it somehow bring back long destroyed melanocyte cells? I was initially skeptical about Dr. Wesley’s claim that many other clinics around the world have also reported this phenomenon. However, I then contacted a few of the most renowned physicians who offer PRP to treat hair loss, and I got some surprisingly positive feedback.
Please note that the below images could all be best case scenarios, and, in all likelihood, very few people do have a chance of reversing their grey hair with RRP. Nevertheless, I now do believe that PRP is giving select patients stellar results, both in terms of hair regrowth and improved hair pigmentation. Perhaps even in the best case scenarios, hair color only comes back if is has been lost in the recent (5 year or so) period, although I am not sure about those details. Per several responses, this darkened hair becomes lighter again after a few months unless the patient keeps getting PRP injections several times a year.
No matter what your opinion about platelet-rich plasma, it is worth keeping a track of this sector of the hair loss world, especially when it comes to new studies on the subject. Do make sure to read my post on whether PRP works for hair loss.
The first person I approached was the Florida based PRP guru Dr. Joseph Greco. We have e-mailed each other close to ten times over the past three years, and from what I can tell, he is the most experienced PRP practitioner in the world when it comes to treatment for hair loss. His own version of PRP is known as cytokine rich plasma (CRP). See this article from his site on the difference between the PRP and CRP.
Dr. Greco agreed that PRP sometimes does bring back pigment to hair. I have pasted the contents of his e-mail below, followed by a couple of great before and after photos that he sent me of one patient who got darker hair from PRP treatment.
“Yes, I have about two dozen patients who saw an improvement in hair color over the years ranging from 20 to 50’s, both male and female. Attached is a female patient in her 40’s who has been coming since 2011. After her initial couple of treatments she does a yearly maintenance and when she came in a few months ago I told her “I like her hair color” and she said she never “colored her hair” so we pulled up her before photo’s from 2011 and here are her results. Not only is the hair darker, but it is aesthetically denser and looks in healthier condition. This is regenerative therapy so I think it is doing both bringing back the secondary hairs improving the existing hair and turning on the melanocytes. I have not seen gray hair turn dark, but most patients say “there hair gets a few shades darker.”
Note: The “No Hair Color” label in the below photos means no hair coloring dye used.
Dr. Jerry Cooley is one of the most renowned hair transplant surgeons in the US, and a winner of the ISHRS Platinum Follicle Award in 2008. His clinic in North Carolina participates in cutting edge research in diverse areas ranging from hair cloning to PRP. In an e-mail to me, he stated that: “I routinely see a slight darkening effect with PRP/ACell”. He attached the below photo as an example of this phenomenon:
For more than four decades, Florida based bio-engineer Dr. John Satino has been heavily involved in the hair loss world and, sad to say, I only heard about him a few months ago while reading a recent news article on stem cells. He has been among the earliest adopter and tester of numerous new treatments, including PRP and stem cell based ones. In fact he has had a hair transplant as well as stem cell injections to his own scalp. Dr. Satino has had especially significant success in treating patients with alopecia areata.
Dr. Satino told me that at his practice he has definitely seen hair darken significantly after PRP treatment in some patients. He sent me a great before and after photo of an elderly woman showing this phenomenon. I have pasted that photo after his below two e-mails’ content.
“We were the first pioneers after Dr. Greco to use this technology. We use Aphanizomenon orally, prior to the blood draw. This helps release more stem cells from the bone marrow, as seen in Cardiovascular Revascularization Medcine Vol.8 2007 CD34 and CD33 in vivo CXCR4 Expression. We also do fat extraction for more difficult cases.”
“We charge $1,500 for the PRP injections with the Aphanizomenon and laser cap included. As I stated in our conversation, I believe the low level laser plays an important role in PRP therapy. So I include a laser cap. Even if they have a laser comb, they probably don’t use it, since their arm gets tired, and the cap can be used anyplace you can were a ball cap.”
I have covered New Jersey based Dr. Jeffrey Rapaport a few times before on this blog. My 2014 post with videos about him is worth a reread. When I asked him whether PRP has darkened scalp hair in any of his patients, he also gave me the affirmative. Below are three sample before and after images that he sent me (in the female one, it is not too clear if some hair is darker unless you zoom in):
If you ever do get PRP injected into your scalp (with or without ACell), make sure to post a comment in this thread about your experiences. Blog readers and myself would be very appreciative.