Platelet-rich plasma therapy (also called a PRP injection) is a regenerative medical treatment that is gaining popularity for a wide range of applications. Whether you’re seeking relief from chronic joint pain or you’re interested in innovative anti-aging beauty treatments, PRP injection therapy could be beneficial.
What Are PRP Injections?
PRP therapy utilizes the body’s natural healing response to injury — platelets in the blood — to treat conditions caused by overuse, degeneration, inflammation, and much more. During treatment, a small amount of blood is drawn from the patient’s arm and placed in a centrifuge where the platelets are separated out from other parts of the blood. What we’re left with is PRP, or platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected directly into the site of injury or pain.
Our bodies use platelets to repair damaged tissue. Platelets contain a myriad of growth factors that are released at the site of injury. These growth factors help to recruit native stem cells and signal the growth of new blood vessels, ultimately prompting a tissue healing response. This therapy essentially helps the body heal itself by injecting a concentration of those platelets, or healing fuel, into the site of an injury.
What Can PRP Injections Be Used to Treat?
Platelet-rich plasma injection therapy can aid in the recovery process and facilitate healing of the following injuries and conditions:
- Overuse injuries
- Inflammatory diseases
- Muscle strains
- Muscle fibrosis (particularly in the back)
- Ligament sprains (such as an ankle, ACL, or MCL sprain)
- Herniated spinal discs or inflammation
- Damaged ligaments and tendons
- Shoulder labral injuries
- Rotator cuff tears
- Tendonitis (such as tennis elbow or jumper’s knee)
- Spinal injuries
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Skin conditions, such as, wrinkles and other signs of skin aging
Because of this, PRP injections are used to treat a range of patients, including athletes and everyday people suffering from both chronic pain and acute injuries.
In addition, treatment with a PRP injection for face and beauty concerns is gaining popularity with celebrities and reality TV stars, like Kim Kardashian and Keira Maguire. This particular treatment, sometimes referred to as the “vampire facial,” has garnered attention as a way to rejuvenate skin, reduce wrinkles, and improve the complexion of the skin. It involves administering the platelet-rich plasma just under the skin of the patient’s face via a process called microneedling.
What Should I Expect During Treatment?
PRP injection therapy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that takes about 60 - 90 minutes. This is one reason platelet-rich plasma therapy is a great alternative to invasive surgeries that are used to treat some of the same conditions. In addition, because the patient’s own blood is used for the injections, the risk of infection and allergic reaction is very low.
At the beginning of treatment, a small amount of blood (less than 2 ounces) will be drawn from your arm. If needles cause you anxiety, your doctor can prescribe something to help you relax. The blood is then spun in a centrifuge which produces the concentrated platelet-rich plasma. After that, the PRP injection is administered directly into the site of pain or injury (or just under the skin on the face for facials).
Once this process is complete, the injection site will be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged. PRP injection recovery time is minimal, but it’s important to give your body a couple of days to heal. You may experience some soreness and swelling for a few days after treatment and your clinician will give you instructions to follow when you go home.
When Will I See Results?
You should begin to see results approximately 3 weeks after receiving a PRP injection and it is normal to see continued improvement for up to 6 months after treatment. Depending on the condition being treated and the severity of the injury, some patients benefit from multiple treatments. Your clinician will want to schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your progress.
If you’re looking for the most innovative treatment options, including the best PRP injections San Diego has to offer, book a consultation at Aspire Regenerative. Our clinicians will recommend the best treatment options to help you reach your personal health, wellness, and beauty goals.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy FAQ
Do you have questions about PRP injections? The list below provides answers to some commonly asked questions regarding platelet-rich plasma therapy, what treatment entails and what the recovery process is like.
How Long Do PRP Injections Last?
You should expect to be at the doctor’s office for 60 to 90 minutes on the day of your treatment. Many patients begin to see results 3 weeks after receiving PRP injections and see continued improvements for approximately 6 months. It is important to note that results vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the precise condition or ailment being treated. Your doctor may recommend multiple treatments to achieve optimal results.
How Do I Prepare for PRP Injections?
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure. It is a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to your appointment. Your doctor will instruct you to stop taking anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen and naproxen) and supplements for up to 2 weeks prior to receiving PRP injections. If your doctor prescribes you a narcotic medication to alleviate pain, you will need to have someone drive you home after treatment. In addition, if you are receiving PRP injections in your legs, feet, hips, ankles or other area that may make driving difficult, be sure to have someone drive you home.
How Long Is the Recovery Process After PRP Injections?
It is important to rest for a couple of days after receiving PRP injections. Patients often experience pain at and around the injection site for the first 1 to 2 days after treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help alleviate pain and will instruct you not to apply ice to the area, as this will counteract the intended healing process. Bruising and swelling at the injection site is common for up to 1 week after receiving PRP injections.
What Will I Need to Avoid After PRP Injections?
You should not use ice or take anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve for 2 weeks after receiving PRP injections. It is important to keep the injection site clean and dry. You can shower but will need to apply a new bandage afterwards, and you should avoid soaking the injection site in a bath or hot tub.
Can I Exercise After Receiving PRP Injections?
Your doctor will provide you with a list of specific exercises to avoid for the first 6 weeks after receiving PRP injections. It is best to rest for the first few days after treatment and in some cases, your doctor may recommend using crutches until you can walk without pain.
Does Insurance Cover PRP Injections?
Select insurance providers may cover PRP injections, but most do not. You will need to check with your specific insurance provider to see if your plan covers this therapy.