Liquid gold: Platelet-rich-plasma - Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D.

Liquid gold: Platelet-rich-plasma

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By Dr Dana Fara’neh Batayneh

Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP) is a promising treatment that has gained a lot of attention as a safe, non-surgical therapeutic approach. It uses the body’s natural ability to heal itself! PRP is used in many fields of medicine like orthopaedics (to treat joint or tendon diseases), plastic surgery and oral surgery.

Blood is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma, the yellow-golden liquid that has platelets along with other ingredients.

Platelets have long been known for their role in blood clotting; they stop bleeding and help in wound healing. It was not until recently that other important functions were discovered — namely tissue repair, growth and healing. This is due to multiple important proteins within platelets including cytokines and growth factors.

The idea of PRP is based on the fact that platelets, when present in high concentrations in tissues, release certain growth factors that start healing, tissue repair and cell renewal.

How is PRP session done?

A blood sample is drawn from the patient in a special tube, then spun in a centrifuge machine that separates the plasma from red and white blood cells. This leads to a much higher concentration of platelets in the plasma (therefore called platelet- RICH-plasma).

Platelet count in normal individuals is around 200,000 on average; studies have shown that platelets need to be concentrated to a count around 1,000,000 (which is almost five times the normal) for the procedure to be effective. Plasma is then withdrawn from the tube (sometimes an activating agent like Calcium Chloride is added to the plasma to activate the platelets) and injected into the patient’s skin or hair, where platelets release growth factors and cytokines.

Face PRP

In the skin, these factors promote cell renewal, stimulate blood circulation and increase the production of two important proteins: collagen and elastin. These proteins give the skin its strength, firmness and elasticity. Three sessions are usually done, four weeks apart. Patients notice an improvement in skin texture, a more unified skin tone, a decrease in fine wrinkles and an increase in skin hydration and plumpness.

Hair PRP

In the scalp, these factors promote the formation of new blood vessels and new hair follicles. Three sessions are done, four weeks apart. Patients notice a decrease in hair shedding and an increase in hair density.

What can be targeted with PRP

• Hair loss

• Signs of skin ageing (fine wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, dry skin)

• Sun damage

• Fatigued skin

• Acne scars and wide pores

• Skin pigmentation and melasma

No quick fix

PRP, however, cannot be used as a solo treatment, but be combined with other treatment options. For example, when treating patients with acne scars, PRP can be added to any treatment like Fractional Microneedling Radiofrequency, subcision, dermapen and so on.

Studies have shown that when PRP is combined with any of these methods, results are much better than with any of these alone. Other ingredients can also be combined with the PRP sessions like mesotherapy injections (which can be done either during the same session or done a few days following the session) to add to the results of the sessions.

Factors affecting results of PRP sessions

Patient selection: Although PRP is a natural treatment that can work for everyone, some patients are better candidates than others. People who have low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), platelet disorders, types of anaemia, thalassemia, or infections are not candidates for PRP treatment.

PRP method: Both the way the plasma is centrifuged and the injection technique affect the results of the PRP session,

PRP Kit used: Some kits yield higher platelet concentrations than others, which in turn leads to better results

Are there any side effects?

• The PRP session is usually followed by a mild redness of the skin that usually lasts for hours

• Some bruising due to the needle injections can occur

My expert recommendation

PRP is a safe procedure that can be used both as a preventive measure to help delay signs of skin aging and a treatment in addressing many dermatological concerns.


Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D. is a Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Management physician at Manhattan Spine and Sports Medicine (, a private practice based in New York City with 40 years of experience providing the finest expert medical care and services to patients around the world.

Dr. Iffie is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and, as a physiatrist, utilizes ultrasound guided injections, fluoroscopy guided injections, PRP, regenerative medicine, and more to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions affecting muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves.