Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself, but sometimes the process is slower than you’d like. While you wait, you suffer through pain and limited mobility. With a little boost from your own blood, you can shorten your recovery time from injuries and surgery.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a popular form of regenerative medicine that draws upon your body’s own healing properties and amplifies their effect. Dr. Michael Tachuk at Viva Wellness Medical Group in San Diego, California, uses this treatment to help his patients heal more quickly as well as to address certain cosmetic issues.
Here, he takes a closer look at PRP so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
How your blood helps you heal
Your blood has several components. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, protein, and salts. Blood also contains solids in the form of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
The platelets are known for their ability to clot, which is critical when you cut your finger or gash your leg. But platelets also contain special growth factors that prompt your cells to reproduce and regenerate damaged tissues.
PRP therapy involves concentrating the amount of platelets in your plasma to boost its healing power.
How we produce PRP
To create a concentrated solution of platelet-rich plasma, we draw a small sample of blood from your arm, just as we do during a normal blood test. We place the vial of blood in a special centrifuge and spin it high speed to separate your blood into its distinct parts.
This process forces all the red blood cells to sink to the bottom of the vial. A thin layer of white blood cells and platelets settles into the middle, and the plasma rises to the top.
Dr. Tachuk can then create a solution of plasma and platelets from the separate components. Typically, your blood contains anywhere from 150,000-450,000 platelets per microliter of plasma, but after we process it, we can create a serum that’s up to nine times that concentration of platelets.
When we inject the PRP into your injured area, the growth factors get to work, accelerating the healing process and decreasing inflammation and pain.
How to know if PRP is right for you
Research is still ongoing to study the mechanisms of PRP, why it works, and which conditions and patients it’s best suited to treat. PRP works better for some people than others, but if you have an acute injury or chronic pain that more traditional treatments aren’t addressing well, there’s no risk involved with trying PRP.
Some of the most responsive conditions we treat with PRP include:
- Chronic and acute tendon injuries
- Muscle tears
- Postsurgical recovery
- Soft tissue injuries
Platelet-rich plasma can also address certain cosmetic issues. Male pattern baldness, also called androgenetic alopecia, causes your hair follicles to shrink, and it often responds well to PRP treatments. Many patients find that PRP leads to hair regrowth and thicker hair strands.
PRP can also have anti-aging effects on your skin by reducing wrinkles and deep lines, diminishing scars, volumizing sagging skin, and improving your overall complexion.
While PRP is generally considered a very safe treatment with few to no associated risks, a few conditions may disqualify you from the treatment:
- HIV or AIDS
- Skin cancer in the treatment area
- Blood thinner medication for heart disease
- Hepatitis C
Because these conditions affect your platelets, PRP therapy wouldn’t be as effective.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for PRP, schedule a consultation with Dr. Tachuk by calling 928-250-1429 or booking your visit online.