For decades, medical professionals have been searching for an effective method to repair the human body. Treatments such as platelet-rich plasma therapy(PRP) and exosome therapy use human growth factors to stimulate healing & repair. Physicians are using the body’s own material to tap into the regenerative process. This process may sound less artificial in comparison to pharmaceutical drugs, but how safe is it? Some claim these therapies may be beneficial in treating various transplant procedures, but evidence supporting hair restoration is limited. Yet, medical offices around the U.S. are now selling these treatments with the hopes of restoring hair growth. Before consumers put their money into these costly procedures, there is a lot to consider.
Neither PRP nor exosome therapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA). Therefore, both treatments have not been cleared for clinical trials. Due to this lack of research, the effectiveness of both therapies is debated among medical professionals. Consumers must remember there are risks associated with these procedures until the FDA can claim these experimental therapies are “reasonably safe.”
Both PRP and exosome therapy involve subcutaneous injections. These injections are considered a method of reprogramming. Physicians collect the material and then reapply it to areas in need of repair. The injections are supposed to signal a chain reaction within the tissue of targeted cells. Dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and orthopedic surgeons are among the pool of physicians offering PRP and exosome treatments.
Supportive claims of hair growth benefits from PRP and Exosome therapies are among various transplant procedure data. Physicians are using platelets & exosomes alongside transplant material to boost the healing process of muscular tissue and cartilage. Some doctors are advocating for these therapies as cure-all remedies. Even though evidence suggests that these therapies are not single-handedly reversing degenerative conditions like androgenetic alopecia.
In addition to transplant material and other therapies, PRP and exosome treatments show positive results. But as a monotherapy, these treatments have not proven to be effective. For example, one PRP controlled study conducted in Austria at the Medical University of Graz states:
“No improvements were seen over the course of the trial, using TrichoScan measurements or visual assessment. In conclusion, these results suggest that treatment with platelet-rich plasma as a monotherapy does not improve hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia.”
In this study mentioned above, twenty of the participants received PRP, and ten received saline injections. This small, controlled trial assessed changes in hair number and diameter. It found no significant improvements throughout the study, which included five PRP treatments in intervals over 4-6 weeks.
Another trial, conducted by a Florida Mayo Clinic, concluded PRP and minoxidil could aid hair growth. This trial doesn’t quite identify the benefits of PRP alone, but the utilization of both minoxidil and PRP. The study was conducted as such:
“In a randomized control trial, researchers followed 19 women with female pattern baldness. The participants used topical minoxidil for 12 weeks followed by an 8-week washout between treatments and PRP scalp injections for 12 weeks.”
To prove significant, many scientists require a large sample size of one hundred participants. With such small study groups and minimal control factors, it isn’t easy to pinpoint any significant benefits from these procedures. The length of time in collecting data is also one variable we need to address. The longer the time frame and greater sample size will provide notable data. The information out there isn’t conclusive enough to push one way or another. Let’s review platelet-rich plasma, exosomes therapy, and the cost of both.
What is Platelet-Rich Plasma(PRP) Therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves extracting the client’s blood, obtaining the plasma from the blood draw, and then injecting the plasma into the scalp. PRP has been documented to improve cell regeneration and overall recovery for various things like burns & orthopedic injuries. However, there are minimal clinical trials that back up the benefits when it comes to hair growth. In addition, this is a costly therapy ranging between $500-$2,000 per treatment, often repeating treatments over several months. Side effects include pain at the injection site, bruising, and mild skin irritation.
What are Exosomes?
Exosomes are substances produced from cells. They contain a mixture of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Exosomes work like a delivery service. They carry the instructions for cell regeneration and signals to initiate cell processes. Due to their small size of 20-100 nanometers, exosomes are thought to penetrate deep within the targeted tissue when injected. (For perspective, human hair is about 70,000 nanometers thick. Anything smaller than 40,000 nanometers requires a microscope to view.)
Exosome injections are believed to mediate inflammation and accelerate the healing of wounds. The cost for one treatment is around $3,000 – $7,000. Exosome therapy has similar side effects to platelet-rich plasma therapy. Adverse side effects patients have experienced are pain at the injection site, headaches, nausea, and allergic reaction to the carrier agent. Those who reported adverse reactions claimed symptoms resolved in 1-3 days.
“As a general matter, exosomes used to treat diseases and conditions in humans are regulated as drugs and biological products under the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and are subject to premarket review and approval requirements.”
Exosomes pose the potential to rebuild tissue and heal damaged cells, but there is still more to learn about their activity in the human body and their role in hair growth. Moreover, with such mild side effects, it seems too good to be true. But with limited research conducted on humans, potential consumers should proceed with caution. These procedures are costly and could delay preventative care from treatments that have already been proven beneficial.
Currently, the only two FDA-approved therapies for hair loss are minoxidil (which is found in Rogaine) and Propecia (known by its generic name finasteride). Low-level light therapy has also been clinically tested and proven to show significant hair growth. Be sure to consult with your doctor and a hair professional before investing thousands of dollars into PRP and Exosome therapies.