Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment, which involves injecting a small amount of a patient's own blood to release various growth factors from platelets, continues to increase in popularity. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has tracked the procedure since 2015 and reports a 25 percent increase in cosmetic PRP use in the last four years.
That increase in popularity could in part trace back to celebrities extolling the procedure's cosmetic benefits. Yet with so much information coming from so many different sources about the treatment's myriad uses, it's difficult to understand the full extent of its advantages and limitations.
"Treatments using PRP show great promise for harnessing the body's own natural tissue repair processes to help our patients achieve improved form and function," said Edward Chamata, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, lead author of a review and update on the science behind PRP and its evolving role in plastic surgery. The review is published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
Platelet-rich plasma has many characteristics that make it very attractive for use in plastic surgery: it's easy and inexpensively produced using the patient's own cells, with little or no risk of adverse effects. However, particularly for cosmetic procedures, treatments can be time consuming and may require multiple sessions.
Platelets are blood cells that play a critical role in blood clotting. When tissue damage occurs, platelets rush to the area, initiating a cascade of events to stop bleeding and start the wound-healing process. Platelets have been shown to release over 30 growth factors and other biologically active proteins, with effects including new blood vessel formation and tissue growth.