Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a controversial treatment that is becoming increasingly popular in sports science and dermatology.

To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the use of PRP in bone graft treatments. However, doctors may use the treatment to address a variety of other health issues.

Some doctors are now using PRP therapy to encourage hair growth, promote muscle healing, and treat the symptoms of arthritis.

Other medical professionals oppose the use of PRP outside of its approved medicinal uses. For example, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation (AF) strongly recommend against its use in treating knee or hip osteoarthritis (OA).

In this article, we detail what PRP therapy entails, how much it costs, and when doctors may recommend it.

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Platelets are blood cells that play an important role in wound healing. They help form clots to stop bleeding and can support cell growth.

To prepare a PRP injection, a medical professional will take a sample of a person’s blood. They will seal this sample in a container and place it in a centrifuge. This device then spins at such a high speed that the blood sample separates into component parts, one of which is PRP.

The medical professional will then extract this plasma and prepare it for administration.

Research suggests that injecting areas of inflammation or tissue damage with high concentrations of platelets can encourage new tissue growth and promote overall cellular healing.

For instance, medical professionals may mix PRP with other bone graft therapies to enhance tissue repair. Doctors may also use PRP therapies to treat other muscular, skeletal, or skin conditions.

Some examples of treatment areas where doctors use PRP include:

Hair growth

Injecting PRP into the scalp may help reduce inflammation that can lead to hair loss.

A 2015 study reports that males receiving PRP treatment grew more hair, and with significantly more density, than males who did not get the treatment.

However, this was only a small-scale study, and further controlled research is necessary to fully assess the efficacy of PRP in hair growth.

Tissue healing

Doctors may use PRP injections to help promote tissue healing.

Authors of a 2014 paper found that three rounds of PRP injections reduced symptoms in the participants with a knee injury called chronic patellar tendinopathy. In the study, the researchers analyzed cases of 28 athletes.

A 2018 review also notes that PRP therapies may help reduce pain and improve healing in ligament and tendon damage cases. Still, the authors conclude that more research is necessary to fully assess the efficacy of the treatment.

Moreover, PRP therapies may aid in bone healing. However, studies in this area are inconclusive on the benefit of PRP treatments. A 2021 review suggests that the lack of standardization in the preparation and use of PRP could be a factor in these inconclusive reports.

Inflammation reduction

Doctors may use PRP to reduce inflammation in people with OA and rheumatoid arthritis. This inflammation can lead to joints becoming painful and stiff.

However, the use of PRP to treat forms of arthritis is controversial. Both the ACR and the AF strongly recommend against the use of PRP in treating knee or hip OA.

The cost of a single PRP treatment will typically be in the range of $500–2,500. People may also require repeat treatments.

Costs can vary depending on location, facilities, and the expertise of the doctor performing the treatment. It is also of note that few insurance plans cover the cost of PRP treatment.

Injecting PRP involves using a person’s own platelets, which is why people receiving this treatment do not usually have any adverse reactions to the injections.

However, they may experience irritation, pain, or bleeding at or around the injection site.

Most people can resume their normal activities almost immediately after having a PRP injection.

PRP is a promising therapy for those who experience tissue damage or hair loss, but there is still some controversy surrounding this type of treatment.

To date, there has been no conclusive evidence of its effectiveness, or standardization of treatment. As a result, some health bodies and organizations strongly recommend against the use of PRP treatments.

Usually, medical insurance does not cover PRP injections, which can become expensive if repeat treatments are necessary.