Platelet Rich Plasma – A Window into the 21st Century of Cosmetic Surgery

The following is a guest post by our specialty expert Dr. Paul Fondacaro

In recent years, many advances have been made in enhancing cosmetic procedures. We commonly use neuromodulators, such as Botox and Dysport, to treat lines and wrinkles due to dynamic facial muscles. Fillers –such as Radiesse, Juvederm, Restylane and Sculptra — get the nod to soften deep folds and add volume, where needed.

However, we now have a relatively new addition to the cosmetic arsenal: platelet rich plasma (PRP), our own body’s natural source for rejuvenation.

Any patient concerned about using neurotoxins or commercial fillers — but who is still worried about aged skin or losing facial volume, causing deep folds or wrinkles — can look forward to this new option. Better still, using your own blood eliminates the risks of infection and allergic reactions.

Researchers can now harness your body’s own healing and rejuvenating capabilities; and use it for various purposes. Using platelet rich plasma (PRP) is relatively new in the field of cosmetic procedures; but it has been time-tested for healing capabilities in sports-related injuries. Many professional athletes, as well as regular patients, are benefitting from platelet rich plasma in conjunction with corrective surgery. We now have a solid history of: muscles; tendons; and ligaments healing faster with PRP therapy. It’s no surprise PRP is now also providing very promising results in the field of cosmetic enhancements.

Here’s the science of how PRP works: the average person has 150,000 to 350,000 platelets per milliliter of blood. Platelets are important in helping our blood clot. They function by collecting in an area that is bleeding; and more importantly, our platelets release certain chemicals — or, factors. These factors cause a whole cascade of events that complete the “clotting.” Recent scientific advances now let us separate these potent platelets, in an office setting, from your blood. We can then concentrate your platelets into a small volume of serum. Next we inject, back into your body, the serum containing your platelet rich plasma — to stimulate, and rejuvenate, aged and damaged skin.

We still don’t know precisely how, but it seems platelets release protein growth factors that are vital to: wound healing; tissue regenerating; creating new blood; and stimulating stem cells. What this all means is that — the platelets, once injected, release all the potent growth and healing proteins — and your skin gains a more youthful appearance.

What can you expect during an office visit for platelet rich plasma? The process entails first drawing blood from the patient. The blood is collected in a specially prepared test tube, containing a separating gel that helps collect the precious platelets. The separation process, requiring a centrifuge, takes approximately 9 minutes. Once the PRP serum is ready, it’s aspirated into a syringe; and ready for injection. The serum is thin enough to use a very narrow needle — the same, small-caliber, needle size normally used to administer Botox. We then inject the PRP into the areas you want to improve, along small lines and wrinkles. We can treat your entire face for rejuvenation.

Unlike neuromodulators and commercial fillers, you should be aware that there is a recovery period of swelling; and in some cases, bruising. Releasing the bio-active proteins in PRP does cause an inflammatory response; so this response is expected. This swelling should subside within 3 to 7 days. Applying cold compresses, elevating your head, and using Arnica can minimize any swelling and bruising. Once those effects subside, patients will notice that lines and wrinkles have softened; and areas of volume loss, such as nasolabial (the area between your nose and upper lip) folds, look fuller.

The principle goal of PRP therapy is stimulating fibroblasts (cells that help connect tissue), to aid long-term collagen creation – in turn, providing a more youthful look. Results will vary from patient to patient, depending on various factors such as: age; nutritional status; and genetic predisposition. In general, usually over a 3 to 4 week interval, patients should be able to see improvements in: skin texture; complexion; and tone. These improvements can continue for a year.

You can follow Dr. Fondacaro on Twitter @drparkave or visit his website.