There is a long history behind PRP injection techniques and their use for cosmetic purposes. First used in the 1990s, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections make use of a part of the blood thought to have unique healing and growth properties. The injections are created by activating platelets in blood through a special process. Once injected into affected muscles or joints, the platelet-rich mixture may promote healing. The procedure may also help manage some musculoskeletal conditions and ease pain from joint, tendon, or muscle irritation. The injections also help improve the appearance of the face in a technique commonly known as the “vampire face lift.”
To learn more about the options for a PRP injection, contact our office today.
Preparing PRP Injections
In order to prepare PRP injections, 2-3 tubes of the patient’s blood are usually taken. The blood will then be specially mixed during a process called centrifugation to separate platelets. The resulting mixture will be injected into the affected area. Tissues will then have access to extra platelets to facilitate the healing process and growth, or regeneration, process.
Ultrasound is sometimes used to guide the medical professional as the platelets are injected into the affected area to ensure the right areas are injected. The site of the injection is properly cleaned before the shot is administered, usually during an office visit. Ideal candidates for PRP injections are those who are in otherwise good physical health without any significant underlying issues that may adversely affect healing.
How PRP Injections Work
It’s believed that increased concentrations of the growth factors in platelets somehow facilitate the healing process within tissues. Noted for their role in clotting, platelets are one of the three solid components in blood, along with red and white blood cells. Growth factors in platelets are thought to promote tissue healing.
Platelets are unique in that they are cell fragments rather than something like a molecule that has a clearly understood function, which is what makes it difficult to pinpoint how they work to encourage healing. Based on existing research, PRP injections appear to be most effective when used to treat chronic tendon injuries, especially those affecting joints. PRP can either be directly injected into the affected area or used during surgery.
Direct PRP Injections for Pain
The most common application of PRP is through a direct injection. For instance, a runner with an inflamed tendon may receive an injection into their swollen heel cord. A local anesthetic is included with the direct injection of PRP to numb the area and minimize any temporary discomfort from the injection itself. Some patients report an increase in pain for the first few weeks before experiencing noticeable relief. This reaction is considered normal. Direct injections appear to hold the most promise when used to stimulate the healing of stubborn slow-motion injuries.
PRP Injections for Cosmetic Purposes
PRP injections play a significant role in cosmetic procedures, with one example being what’s termed a vampire face lift. PRP is injected into specific areas of the face to create a temporary fullness that usually lasts approximately 4-5 hours. During this time, filler is injected to extend the results to about six or seven months. The plasma-rich injection also stimulates the production of collagen and other beneficial substances within the skin.
Conditions Treated with PRP Injections
PRP injections appears to be most effective when used to treat chronic tendon injuries. One increasingly common application is an injection directly into the elbow to hasten healing from tennis elbow. Injections of PRP are also being used to encourage healing from sports-related injuries other than tennis elbow, including acute injuries affecting muscles and ligaments. PRP injection treatments are already being used by some professional athletes to treat knee sprains, pulled hamstrings, and strains affecting the thighs and ankles.
Additional research involving PRP injections is being done to determine if similar results can be produced for patients with arthritis affecting joints, especially the knee joint. Another potential use for PRP injections is to increase healing of bone fractures, although more research is needed to determine how much potential this use of the treatment. Injections are generally meant to supplement other treatments, not entirely replace such remedies.
PRP injections have garnered attention in recent years due to use by some prominent athletes. Side effects are minimal or non-existent since a patient’s own blood is used for preparation of the injections. Various clinical studies have shown positive results for patients with living with some degree of shoulder, hip, ankle, and elbow pain. There’s also promising research on the use of PRP injections to ease arthritis-related discomfort.
To learn more about the options for PRP injection, contact us today.