By Virginia Beaton, FNP
Forever Health Network Practitioner
The popularity of non-invasive procedures for rejuvenating the skin's appearance has led to many significant innovations. One of the latest techniques involves the use of plasma extracted from a patient’s own blood (platelet-rich plasma or PRP) as a soft tissue filler or skin rejuvenator.
The science behind this novel approach takes its lead from wound repair studies demonstrating that PRP is rich in growth factors that activate and rejuvenate cells in the body. When these PRP growth factors are released, they support healthy levels of collagen, new capillary blood supply, and skin hydration - all adding to skin rejuvenation.
PRP is extracted from patients through a simple blood draw which is then spun down in a centrifuge to separate the plasma from the red blood cells. The platelet-rich plasma is withdrawn from the vial and injected into facial target areas.
When the platelets in the platelet-rich plasma are activated, there is a release of several different tissue growth factors. PRP is the only available product that contains elevated levels of all the patient’s naturally occurring growth factors that are maintained in precisely the same ratios found circulating in the body. Since the PRP is made from a patient’s own blood, it is insulated against the risk of disease transmission.
Clinicians in specialties such as dentistry, otolaryngology, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopedics, cardiovascular, plastic surgery, and wound healing have used PRP clinically for over a decade to provide a natural, bioactive growth factor combination that enhances repair of tissues. Although the use of PRP differs among procedures, it is generally applied topically to a wound site. In cardiovascular surgery, it can be used to control bleeding. It is used to stabilize bone grafts as well as increase bone growth in orthopedic and dental procedures. PRP is also used to seal wounds and accelerate healing in facial plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures.1,2
In the field of cosmetic facial rejuvenation, the latest innovation is combining PRP with dermal heating using radio waves, ultrasound or laser light to resurface the skin, thereby increasing collagen production and tightening of the skin.
A recent animal study concluded that PRP is effective in the rejuvenation of photoaged skin and suggested further in vivo research about the mechanism of PRP.3 Clinicians have found that the addition of PRP at the time of dermal heating enhances the environment needed for skin healing and renewal. The two techniques work synergistically to enhance skin appearance with improvements seen within weeks and sustained for up to 18 months in certain cases.
In my own clinical practice, we are using dermal heating with PRP and have observed that the 25 patients who received the treatment so far have a more youthful and fuller facial appearance.
Although other centers have reported positive findings combining dermal heat and PRP, we are the first to report that there are also marked improvements in skin quality, most noticeably improved smoothness, decreased visibility of pores, and lightened dark spots.
Our patients are carefully screened to ensure that this is the appropriate procedure for them and that they will be satisfied with the results. We have determined that this procedure can benefit properly selected patients and is ideal as a preventive approach for younger patients.
- Sclafani, AP. Applications of Platelet-Rich Fibrin Matrix in Facial Plastic Surgery. Facial Plast Surg. 2009;25:270-276.
- Sclafani, AP. Safety, efficacy, and utility of platelet-rich fibrin matrix in facial plastic surgery. Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2011 Jul-Aug;13(4):247-51. Epub 2011 Feb 21.
- Baek, RM et al. Effect of platelet-rich plasma on ultraviolet b-induced skin wrinkles in nude mice. J of Plast Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery. 2011;64(2):e31-e39.
The author would like to thank Dr. Renata J. Maslowski of OWLS for Science, Inc., with assistance in preparing this article.