ACell and PRP Injection Therapy
Baldness and thinning hair is a problem that affects both men and women, and while it’s not physically debilitating, the toll that changes in physical appearance take can be extremely detrimental to your mental and emotional health, causing stress, self-esteem issues, and even relationship problems. If you are concerned about hair loss, you should know that not only is it a common problem, it is also one that can be treated. At Rejuvé, we are excited to be able to offer patients some of the newest state-of-the-art treatments for restoring hair loss.
Regenerative medicine is a growing area of medical practice that holds promise for a wide range of medical conditions and issues, from joint damage to hair loss. Rejuve now offers ACell and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections as a way to spur the growth of your own healthy hair in areas where hair is miniaturized or lost. ACell is a product that has been developed to help wound healing by encouraging adult stem cells to create their own new, healthy tissue. PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is derived from the patient’s own blood. Through a special processing method, growth factors found in the platelets are concentrated at 3-5 times what normally would be found in the blood, stimulating the hair follicle to grow. These have both become common treatments in other areas of medicine from dentistry to reconstructive surgery, but it is only recently that these have begun to be used in combination as a way to combat hair loss. Read on to learn more about how ACell and PRP, how they work as a combination therapy, and what you can expect from the treatment.
ACell® is a unique proprietary medical product that is used for many different types of medical and surgical procedures, including the treatment of ulcers, traumatic wounds, and burns. It is manufactured using tissue from pig bladders, and is safe for use except in patients with a known allergy or sensitivity to porcine materials. The chemical structure is extremely similar to human tissues, and during its manufacture, ACell is disinfected, packaged, and sterilized via electron beam radiation. This non-crosslinked, completely reabsorbable, acellular extracellular matrix scaffold is rich with naturally-occurring collagens and proteins, maintaining an intact epithelial basement membrane surface for wound healing.
ACell is manufactured in a fine powder or in solid sheets, called MatriStem® Surgical Matrix (this is why you’ll sometimes see ACell referred to as MatriStem). This matrix creates a scaffold for healing to occur, triggering new blood vessel formation and recruiting different cells to the site of injury. The new cells, including progenitor cells, have the potential to differentiate into numerous types of site-specific tissues. As you heal, the scaffold degrades and is completely reabsorbed by the body, leaving new, healthy tissue where scar tissue would normally be expected. In addition to being used in hair restoration, ACell sheets have a wide range of surgical uses, including gastrointestinal surgery, urology, and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
At the 19th annual conference of the International Society of Hair Transplant Surgeons, evidence was presented that ACell “attracts” adult stem cells, converting them into the progenitor cells that, in the case of hair follicles, actually grow new hair. Though ACell does have anecdotal success of evidence when used on its own to restore hair (often in cases where there is scalp repair or the patient has had a hair transplant), in more conservative cases ACell is injected in combination with PRP.
PRP is short for Platelet Rich Plasma. Platelets are small disk-shaped cells in your blood that contain powerful cytokines, growth factors, and other regenerative and healing molecules, allowing them to stimulate the healing process. In fact, the cytokines released by platelets are responsible for nearly all repair processes that occur within the body, playing an important role in cellular communication and accelerating tissue and wound healing.
PRP is simply a concentration of these growth factors and proteins. Concentrating them allows us to harness the regenerative properties to help stimulate repair and regeneration. When used to treat hair loss, PRP can help thinning hair grow thicker. PRP is also widely used in orthopedics, and has been noted in the news as a treatment of choice for elite athletes including Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning. It is a completely natural treatment — after all, it’s your own blood — that is widely used in regenerative medicine, including the treatment of hair loss and thinning hair. Its clinical application for hair restoration has recently been supported by a study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery.
Regenerative medicine is a new and constantly evolving field, and we await long-term clinical data for hair growth or re-growth from ACell and PRP treatments. Physicians throughout the US and around the world have used this therapy to treat hair loss with excellent results, and though there is not trial data, the results of clinical studies have been positive. The procedure is well tolerated, minimally invasive, can be performed outpatient, and offers the potential for growing back your own hair without a more intensive procedure like a hair transplant.
What conditions can ACell and PRP Therapy treat?
ACell and PRP therapy can be used to treat hair loss that results from a number of causes, including:
- Male Pattern Baldness, including miniaturized hair on the scalp. The therapy is especially helpful in the early stages of balding.
- All stages of Female Pattern Hair Loss
- Hypotrichosis (fine or reduced hairs) in the eyebrows or beard
- Alopecia Areata or Alopecia Totalis
- Hair loss induced by metabolic causes, including iron deficiency and medication
At your initial consultation, Dr. Tang will examine you carefully to determine whether you are a candidate for ACell and PRP therapy, and help you understand what to expect from the procedure.What happens during the treatment?
In this procedure, ACell is combined with PRP and injected directly into the scalp, encouraging miniaturized hair follicles to become healthier and larger, producing more robust new hair growth. The entire procedure takes roughly 90 minutes to two hours to complete, and you can get back to work right away.
First, a blood sample is taken which is then specially processed to produce the PRP. A topical anesthetic is applied to completely numb the scalp treatment area (the patient can also be sedated, but sedation requires having someone else to drive you home after the treatment). The ACell and PRP are combined and then administered via a series of injections to the affected area, using a tiny needle. After the initial injections, another technique called micro-needling is used on the affected areas to cause micro injuries to the scalp, further inducing and stimulating the scalp to release more growth factors. Once this is done, the ACell and PRP are applied over and into the tiny holes created by the micro-needling to maximize the cellular response. Unlike with a hair transplant, there are no wounds or scarring — in fact after you leave there is no evidence that any procedure has taken place.
Are there any side effects from the procedure?
ACell and PRP therapy is generally well tolerated and it does not require a long recovery period. You may experience some discomfort and tightness of the scalp from the injections for 1-2 days, which can be managed with a non-narcotic analgesic like ibuprofen. This generally resolves within 48 hours. You shouldn’t wash your hair for the first 24 hours, but after that, you can wash and style it as your normally do. If there is swelling, avoid vigorous activity until it is gone.
What kind of results can you expect from ACell and PRP Therapy?
Following ACell and PRP therapy, new hair growth can be seen in as early as 1-3 months. It is typically seen between 4-8 months, and hair can continue to improve up to a year after treatment. To date, results have been maintained without additional injections for up 2 years in many patients, but more research is needed to determine if this new hair growth is permanent. Though for many patients a single treatment is effective, in some cases as second series of injections about 6 months after the first is beneficial. For optimal results, it is recommended to do this procedure on a yearly basis.
Check out these videos to learn more about this treatment:
Dr. Samual Lam discusses ACell and PRP
ABC 13 News Story on ACell and PRP Injections
Want to find out whether ACell and PRP Therapy could help reverse your hair loss? Contact Rejuvé today at 408-740-5320 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tang!