By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
If blood is making you squeamish, then stop reading right here. If new ways for skin rejuvenation interest you, however, keep reading. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is one of the ways of skin therapy that uses your own blood to treat various skin problems (wrinkles and fine lines, sagging skin, etc.).
Using your own blood? You read that right. It is growing in popularity among other autologous therapies like fat grafting, where fat is collected from one part of the body and deposited to another, and mesenchymal stem cell, where stem cells are introduced in damaged or problem areas of the body to stimulate healing. Before your blood runs cold, let’s find out what each of these therapies can do for you!
This is bloody awesome. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is the use of one’s own blood to encourage healing. Believe it or not, PRP therapy has been around for 20 years or more, with applications ranging from orthopedics, dentistry, neurosurgery, dermatology, and cosmetic surgery. It works by drawing a small amount of the patient’s blood and spun in a centrifuge at a high speed to separate the plate-rich plasma from the red blood cells and injected back to the area of the body to hasten or facilitate healing. Platelets are small blood cells that are responsible for blood clotting and the wound-healing process; and this process of separating the platelets from the red blood cells can multiply the platelets up to eight times before they are injected back to the damaged area of the body. For the skin, PRP has been shown to help with various skin and hair problems, from crow’s feet, sun damage, fine lines, dull skin, dark under eye circles, acne scars to hair loss. The platelets release growth factors, or proteins that activate cells for cell renewal and collagen production that repairs or heals the skin.
Let’s get fat. Fat grafting, we mean. Fat grafting, also called autologous fat transfer or a procedure using one’s own fat, has been used for a hundred years or so. It dates as far back as 1893 when this procedure was successfully done to treat deep scars. Soon after, fat grafting was used for other ways, mostly to correct a body’s or the skin’s shape, such as breast reconstruction. Using fat obtains more natural-looking and longer-lasting results, and nowadays, it is commonly used in cosmetic surgery in a number of ways from filling deep wrinkles to enhancing the lips, cheeks, jaw line, hands, and the buttocks. Fat is usually obtained from areas where there is excess fat, such as the abdomen, arms, hips, or thighs. It is then placed on a centrifuge to purify and extract the fat needed for the transfer and is injected back into problem areas.
Cell therapy, anyone? Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) is a type of cell therapy where stem cells are injected into damaged tissue to regenerate healing, cell replacement, and cell growth. MSC regenerates on its own and exists in almost all tissues in the body. It can be obtained from parts of the body such as the bone marrow, adipose tissue, and the umbilical cord, among others. Used for over a decade, MSC can help in a wide variety of diseases, from bone-related problems to liver and immune problems. MSC can also be used to treat various skin problems, from wound healing to autoimmune and inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, photoaging, acne, and psoriasis.
As time goes by, technology always finds alternatives to current methods that may be more promising than the current procedures. If you are interested in PRP, fat grafting, or mesenchymal stem cell therapies for your skin problems, you may ask your dermatologist about it! Please make sure that the clinic and the physician are certified to perform these treatments. While more research is still needed to prove the efficacy of autologous therapies, it is good to know that alternative therapies such as these exist that give patients other non-invasive or minimally invasive options to treat their skin conditions.