The human body is quite good at healing itself when it receives wounds, primarily thanks to platelets in the blood, which rush into action to stop blood loss and begin the process of building new tissue. In recent years, medical innovators have translated this natural ability into a healing treatment based on the creation of “platelet-rich plasma,” or PRP. Fort Worth’s Dr. Peter Damico uses PRP at his skin care practice in Texas, applying injections of platelet-rich plasma to stimulate skin rejuvenation.
The PRP procedure is simple: A small amount of a patient’s blood is extracted. Not much blood is needed, because there are roughly 150,000 to 450,000 platelets in each microliter of healthy blood. In just 30 milliliters of blood, there can be up to 13.5 billion platelets. Too few platelets can cause unrestricted bleeding from both external cuts and internal damage. Too many platelets can cause the formation of clots within the bloodstream.
Each platelet, also known as a thrombocyte, is born in the blood marrow and lives for a little more than a week while circulating throughout the bloodstream. Platelets are very small, but they can be harvested in large numbers.
To create PRP, a small amount of a patient’s collected blood is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the valuable platelets from the red blood cells and other components. Though there are a great many platelets in the final sample, the number is incredibly small when compared to the total number of platelets in the body. In a healthy person, the platelets removed for PRP do not impact the body’s numbers in any significant way. The blood withdrawn is far less than given during a blood donation session, which typically is about 1 liter. Plus, with PRP, the removed platelets are returned to the body.
After removal, the platelets are treated, and then injected into the targeted area, entering at a much higher concentration than found in untreated blood.
PRP has been researched and used for decades to help with sports injuries, with the idea that it promotes more rapid healing. Since platelets are especially suited for soft-tissue repair, the medical community has made an effort to explore other uses for the injections, including into skin that bears the telltale marks of age and damage.
The introduction of concentrated platelets via PRP can be beneficial on its own, but it works particularly well when paired with a treatment that makes miniature wounds in the skin, such as microneedling.
Microneedling uses a collection of small needles to create a series of microchannels into the skin, each of which triggers natural healing processes. The punctures are too small to be considered actual damage, but they are significant enough to prompt fresh collagen production. The rejuvenating effects can be further boosted with corresponding PRP injections.
In the case of a large wound, stimulated collagen and clotting platelets work together to close the opening in the skin. When they receive the signal to move, platelets swarm to the affected area and change their exterior to make themselves stickier. They begin to pile together, sending out chemical messages that attract even more platelets to the wound. This is known as “aggregation.”
In the absence of any wound that needs closure with microneedling and PRP, the increased collagen and platelets instead improve the skin that’s already there, giving it a healthy glow and reducing the appearance of imperfections caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to sunlight, the natural gradual loss of beneficial components in the skin, and other factors. PRP, especially when combined with other treatments, can increase skin moisture and elasticity to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, lighten dark spots where hyperpigmentation has occurred, and revive cells that have taken on a dull, lifeless look.
In addition to PRP, Dr. Peter Damico offers a variety of other injectables for skin health and beauty, including BOTOX® and Juvéderm®, in Fort Worth. Learn more or schedule a consultation by calling (817) 738-9268 or visiting the Skin Care Fort Worth contact page.