Your body has an amazing ability to repair itself thanks to a variety of built-in mechanisms and processes. However, sometimes these processes could use a helping hand. If you want to use your body's own healing powers to overcome an acute or chronic condition, check out these questions and answers about PRP injections.
What Does PRP Mean?
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. Human blood contains elements called platelets. These platelets play essential roles in healing, not only by assisting in blood clotting but also by delivering substances called growth factors to injured or diseased tissues so they can regenerate.
PRP injections can boost the number of platelets and growth factors in an area of the body that desperately needs them. Your doctor first takes a sample of your blood and runs it through a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the other blood elements. The doctor then injects the platelet-rich plasma into the body part needing treatment.
Don't get PRP injections confused with stem cell therapy. Although both methods use the body's own healing substances, they provide two different kinds of healing. Unlike PRP, stem cell therapy involves the injection of concentrated stem cells, which then transform into specialized cells such as muscle or cartilage cells.
What Conditions Can PRP Injections Treat?
PRP injections can help people suffering from a wide range of health challenges. Its ability to jump-start the healing process makes it a useful treatment for acute soft tissue injuries such as ruptured ligaments and torn muscles. However, it can also ease chronic pain and stiffness related to arthritis and tendinitis.
Doctors have even begun prescribing PRP injections for certain cosmetic issues. For instance, some plastic surgeons offer PRP injections as a potential alternative to facelifts for sagging or wrinkled facial skin. Others use it to encourage new hair growth in men and women who struggle with baldness.
What Should You Expect From PRP Injections?
Your doctor may advise you to temporarily stop using certain blood-thinning medications before you receive PRP injections. You may also want to eat something beforehand to reduce your risk of becoming lightheaded during the blood draw. You'll lie on a treatment table while the doctor guides the injections via ultrasound imaging.
You might experience some normal bruising and soreness at the injection site. Avoid washing the injection site for the first couple of days after your treatment. If you've had PRP injections for an injury or chronic pain problem, allow several weeks for results. Baldness treatment may take several months to show improvements.
Ask your primary care provider, injury specialist, or cosmetic surgeon whether PRP injections make sense for your condition and goals. With luck, this technique can give you the pain relief, injury rehabilitation, or youthful look you seek.