The anti-ageing power of platelets

Using your body’s own natural repair systems to rejuvenate the skin, in a treatment with almost no serious side effects, sounds like a treatment that is almost too good to be true.
The increasing use of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) in many different fields of medicine is now bringing this concept into reality and promises to be the future of regeneration, and not just of the skin. Significant advances in regeneration medicine and the different uses of PRP were presented at a recent international medical conference in Venice.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) utilises the power of your own platelets and plasma to signal that repair is needed at the site injected. This natural solution to ageing is a treatment that can safely achieve skin rejuvenation at the cellular level, without the risk of over correction, allergic reaction or rejection.
PRP can be a stand-alone treatment for indications such as scar reduction, hair growth stimulation, and skin texture improvement – especially around the eyes, neck, hands and décolletage, which have been traditionally more difficult to treat. Those seeking a more youthful look can use it in combination with other cosmetic treatments such as dermal needling and dermal fillers to improve their results.
PRP has been used for many years by high performing sportsmen and women to improve recovery after injury, and is also widely used for joint and ligament problems in racehorses and dogs. It has also been found effective for concerns such as erectile dysfunction, non-healing wounds, dry eye and osteoarthritis.  
“It’s exciting to see what can now be achieved using your body’s natural healing process,” says Dr Catherine Stone from The Face Place MedSpa. Dr Stone attended the conference from 22-24 September 2013, along with leading plastic surgeons, rheumatologists, eye surgeons, scientists, musculoskeletal specialists and cosmetic physicians from all around the world.
“New techniques using hyaluronic acid (HA) added to the PRP look promising for improving the hydration of the skin as well as repairing the damaged collagen and skin cells,” reports Dr Stone. “The HA provides a scaffold for the PRP to allow it to function more effectively. It’s great news, as at The Face Place we’ve been developing a new treatment over the last seven months which combines PRP, dermal needling and HA to really boost the skin’s texture and luminosity – we call it ‘Renewed Radiance ‘.
“We have also been researching and trialing PRP for hair loss, so it was great to compare notes with some of the top doctors in the world.”
PRP has been found to be an effective treatment for early stage hair loss in both men and women, especially if hair loss has started within the last two years. The treatment reverses the miniaturisation of the hair shaft, resulting in thicker hair and effectively stopping and often reversing the hair loss.
 Expert plastic surgeons presented new research using PRP in surgery to improve the appearance of scars; in combination with dermabrasion for post-burn scarring; in fat transfer techniques to reconstruct breast tissue after breast surgery; and to improve recovery of the skin after laser resurfacing.
A treatment with PRP involves taking a small sample of your blood, similar to having a blood test, which is then centrifuged in a special tube that separates out the blood cells. After being centrifuged, the tube has three layers visible: the red cells at the bottom, the platelet rich plasma in the middle and the platelet poor plasma at the top.
Your own platelets and plasma can be separated off from the platelet rich area and are then injected back into the body in the areas that need regeneration and repair. To be effective, research has shown you need more than four times the normal level of platelets. The platelets activate and change shape from round to stellate, or star-shaped, releasing growth factors and cytokines that stimulate the omnipotent stem cells in that area to activate and regenerate the tissue. Growth factors bind themselves to receptors on the cell, starting a cascade of intracellular changes down to the nucleus to the DNA, modulating the performance and function of the cell. The PRP works like a ‘fertiliser’ of the skin, while the genetic code of the local cells tell the skin what cells to grow from the mesenchymal stem cells, resulting in healthy normalisation of the surrounding tissues.
PRP can be injected into the skin or under the skin in techniques similar to using a dermal filler, but does not lift like a filler, as it is much more fluid and watery. Within one week of treatment, neocollagenesis can be seen and within three weeks, neovascularisation of the treated area can start to give a more vibrant glow to the skin. Results often start to be seen at three to six weeks and continue to slowly improve for about three to six months. There is a cumulative effect with repeated treatments, and three to four treatments spaced four to six weeks apart seem to give the best results for skin.
The treatment is widely used by Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie and sportsmen like Tiger Woods, but has sometime been portrayed inaccurately in the media. Kim Kardashian made the treatment ‘famous’ by receiving the treatment while pregnant and tweeting it to the world as the ‘vampire facial’ – which is highly inaccurate considering it does not use any red blood cells. Kim’s tweeted photo also raised concerns from the New Zealand cosmetic industry as it overstated the post-treatment appearance and almost looked like blood had been splattered on her face or photoshopped in. Current techniques used in New Zealand do not produce this gory appearance, with mild redness and swelling immediately after the treatment, which usually settles within a few days.  
“We are using your body’s own platelets, so there is no risk of allergic reaction, transmission of infection or rejection of the product,” reported Antonio Turzi, CEO of RegenLab, one of the companies that developed PRP technology. This also explains why Kim was able to receive the treatment while pregnant, unlike many other cosmetic treatments.
PRP has been used in musculoskeletal medicine for nearly ten years to assist the body in repairing tendon, ligament and joint problems. In New Zealand it has been used cosmetically to boost skin repair, soften lines and wrinkles and thicken fine crepey skin for nearly four years. The Face Place in Vulcan Lane was one of the first clinics to trial PRP cosmetically in New Zealand. We believe this could be the next major advancement in medicine for the cosmetic industry, so watch this space.

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