Human blood is made up of various components. These include the erythrocytes that carry oxygen (Red Blood Cells or RBC's), White Blood Cells (WBC.s) that are involved in immune reactions, infection and healing, Plasma (the liquid straw colored portion) and Platelets. Platelets are originally manufactured in the bone marrow from large cells called megakaryocytes, and function in blood clotting and healing and repair. Platelets are extremely rich in various growth factors and chemicals called cytokines. When platelets are activated they release these growth factors and cytokines, which then stimulate healing and repair as well as activating your body's own innate stem and regenerative cells to perform further healing and repair. Platelet Rich Plasma is produced by drawing your own blood and then spinning the blood in a high speed centrifuge. This separates out the various components of the blood in to the red blood cell component and the plasma. The plasma is further separated into a Platelet Poor Plasma (PPP) component and a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) component in which the platelets and their growth factors are concentrated by 5-10 times their normal concentration in whole blood. For our purposes the PRP component is the most important component, but sometimes the PPP is used as well, for example to cover wounds as a biological dressing.
Once the PRP has been separated it can then be used for the various applications described below and elsewhere on this site. In order to free up the growth factors and cytokines, the platelets have to be activated. This can be accomplished by mixing the PRP with calcium and a substance found in the blood when clotting occurs, called thrombin, or the PRP will be activated simply by coming into contact with other tissues in the body when injected or when mixed with other tissues as when combined with fat for fat grafting or other purposes.
As with all regenerative therapies offered at the Bougainvillea Clinique and the Aesthetic surgery Center of Winter Park, PRP treatments offer many of the anti-inflammatory benefits and amplified healing and repair process provided by your own cells and tissues, without many of the downsides or disadvantages of conventional medications such as cortisone injections or surgical therapies. Except for the very slight risks related to both drawing blood and performing an injection in a given area, there are no know side effects or disadvantages to PRP therapy. Of course this makes sense, as we are simply providing your own cells and their products in a more concentrated form in an area where they are needed. A perfect example is to compare the use of cortisone (steroid) shots for musculoskeletal injuries with PRP injections. Both cortisone and PRP have anti inflammatory properties, however cortisone shots actually impede healing and repair. So cortisone shots, particularly when used repeatedly, actually lead to further tissue destruction and breakdown. PRP on the other hand has been shown to work beyond the initial anti-inflammatory effects and can actually result in true tissue repair and restoration of function. Studies show that although high dose cortisone has a stronger anti inflammatory effect than PRP alone, in the long term PRP appeared to be superior in that patients showed progressive improvement over time with better pain relief and long term function.