Posted on Jul 04, 2018, 10 p.m.
Platelet rich plasma therapy uses a person’s own blood to treat various illness and conditions. The treatment has been dubbed “vampire therapy” and is gaining popularity as more high profile celebrities and athletes popularize its use.
PRP works by centrifuging blood to separate white blood cells and platelets from that of red resulting in platelet and white blood cell rich concentrations that can be injected into a specific area or applied topically to areas which need healing, such as acne scarred skin, to naturally enhance the body’s biological healing process. According to experts the platelets are effective in healing due to the numerous growth factors they contain. In theory distilled growth factors should speed healing and improve tissue health. Platelet rich plasma therapy does not involve any drugs or chemicals, there are very few documented complications associated with its use.
PRP therapy shots used by sports stars has led to an increased booming demand to treat everything from back pain to tennis elbow. Even screen celebrities are drawing attention to it opting to use the “vampire facelift” procedure to give even more notoriety and demand to the procedure which is being touted as an antiaging treatment. Evidence supports using PRP to treat conditions such as arthritis, and injection during ACL reconstruction contributes to healing.
Platelet rich plasma therapy is being used to treat a variety of conditions such as acne scars, age spots and wrinkles, baldness and thinning hair, arthritic conditions, pulled tendons and muscles, sprains, and even treatments for sexual dysfunction in both sexes. PRP therapy could even be used in a gel form to help heal ulcers, burns and wounds, similar gels could even help to prevent tooth loss and help to regrow bone after tooth implants; and may even be helpful in treating broken bones, according to researchers. PRP treatments are one of the more promising emerging therapies helping to promote soft tissue healing that can be applied to multiple musculoskeletal problems.
One study has found that transfusing older mode mice with blood of younger ones triggered repair of muscles and liver within a 24 hour period. Platelet rich plasma therapy is thought to help by modifying substances in the older blood that block cell regeneration.
There is much evidence supporting PRP therapy, most being anecdotal in nature, there is a shortage of clinical trials. Some studies suggest that there is little to no benefit, at least in certain conditions, while others suggest great improvements. Some experts suggest that platelet rich plasma therapy is better suited to other types of injuries such as acute wounds rather than overuse injuries, as acute injuries initiates robust healing responses which PRP may intensify, while the healing process is often blunted in overuse injuries. PRP therapy has much to offer, more studies are needed to be done on its sustained efficacy.
Most insurers currently will not cover PRP therapy saying that is not approved by the FDA and quoting lack of science reasons unless used by a surgeon in conjunction with surgery, meaning patients must pay for this treatment out of pocket, which can be costly. As more studies are conducted with science based recommendations one day more insurance companies may consider coverage for the therapy. It is believed that soon insurance companies will approve it as an alternative to corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid injections, as PRP injections have been shown to be more effective in 14 randomized controlled trials in terms of pain relief and functional improvements.
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