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By now you’re probably familiar with, or at least have heard of the “vampire facial,” a skin treatment that essentially uses your own blood to help facilitate a glowing, youthful complexion. What you probably haven’t heard of is that there’s a similar treatment for hair loss, and yes, it requires your blood, too.
It’s called platelet-rich plasma, aka PRP, says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Here’s how it works: “Our blood is made of two main components, red blood cells, and plasma,” he says. “The plasma contains white blood cells and platelets, which are rich in growth factors.”
Growth factors, in a sense, play the role of messengers, signaling skin cells to function. In fact, they’ve been used in medicine to treat a range of health issues, including arthritis, signs of aging, etc. The good news for anyone with thinning hair, says Zeichner, is that growth factors can “help stimulate the activity of the hair follicles and promote new hair growth.”
The use of PRP is “a great treatment option for hair loss because it has a number of scientifically based articles showing its efficacy increasing hair count, hair thickness, and the growth phase of the hair cycle,” says Neil Sadick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and the director of the Sadick Research Group for understanding and treating hair loss.
In her Washington, D.C., practice, board-certified dermatologist Tina Alster combines PRP with other clinically proven solutions for hair loss, including oral supplementation (like Best of Beauty winner Nutrafol) and topicals like Rogaine.
“Much work needs to be done before a ‘one-and-done’ hair growth treatment is developed,” she says. “For the time being, I believe that combination treatments are providing the most substantive [results] for my patients.” That said, she calls PRP “like MiracleGro” for the scalp in that “it amplifies the body’s natural repair system” while stimulating growth.