The Phenomenal Power of Platelets
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
We spent a lot of time recently talking about food here on the blog – admittedly, it’s one of our favourite topics at The Otto Clinic! Our main focus in June was how to holistically mollycoddle our skin by eating the right foods and thus initiate the rejuvenation process from the inside out. We also discussed the importance of knowing your skin type so that
you can apply the right products to feed it from the outside in!
You might be forgiven, at this point, for thinking that you now know all you need to know! However, as any seasoned military tactician will tell you, it is crucial to mount a multi-pronged attack in the war against wrinkles and so, this brings us to another of our favourite topics – platelets! Specifically, Platelet Rich Plasma! There have been a string of articles involving Kim Kardashian and Bar Rafaeli, amongst other celebrities, who have popularised the Vampire Facelift, as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is also known. But this is simply a trendy catchphrase that is designed solely to shock and intrigue. It comes nowhere near explaining the regenerating genius and phenomenon that is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, the third “prong” in our anti-ageing arsenal! But before we look at the wonders that PRP works on our skin, let's first examine exactly what platelets are so that you can understand the importance of these little powerhouses in the fight against wrinkles!
What are Platelets?
Platelets are very tiny blood components (smaller than red blood cells) which are rich in growth factors and whose principal function is to clot our blood to stop bleeding and promote healing. When you injure an area like a ligament or a muscle, they seep into the wound during the bleeding that normally occurs. Platelets are like the emergency services that rush to the scene of an accident: once bleeding occurs in the wound, they set up a blood clot to stop the bleeding and release growth factors to the area to initiate a repair response. Over the first week or so, they release various growth factors at various times in order to bring in stem cells and new blood vessels to ensure that the body can get more blood to the area. In this way, they are able to provide a fully comprehensive repair and regeneration mechanism to the body.
So, what is Platelet Rich Plasma and why does it work?
Surgeons have known for years about the healing benefits of platelets and it is used widely from dentistry to veterinary to orthopedics. PRP is a mix of concentrated platelets and serum created when blood is taken from the patient's vein and placed in a special centrifuge to concentrate the platelets (usually 3-5 times their normal concentration). The benefit of PRP Therapy is that it is a very effective way to deliver a highly concentrated dose of platelets to the injury site in order to supplement and enhance the body’s own natural response. The result is a dramatic kick-start to the healing process – platelets are a bit like expresso shots, helping cells to work harder and faster. This is why PRP Therapy has become an affordable, regenerative treatment for tissue and bone injuries, often allowing patients to avoid surgery. However, it is also used in conjunction with surgery to reduce inflammation and/or bruising, increase range of motion and decrease tissue scarring.