With rapidly changing skin and hair treatments on the market, let’s find out the difference between PRP and PRF. For starters, you can use both to treat the skin and hair, but they function differently. PRP can be used as a rejuvenating skin care treatment commonly referred to as the Vampire Facial, which I wrote about in a previous post. PRP has been the basis for this treatment for many years. Now that PRF has hit the market, many people are starting to use it on the scalp to encourage new hair growth. That said, you can use PRP or PRF on the skin and hair—it’s just that PRF is more recent and hasn’t made as many headlines yet.
In both cases you would want to arrive at the facility fully hydrated. The more hydrated you are, the more vials of serum/blood they can pull. Typically 20 to 60 mL of blood is collected. More is better because the practitioner will be able to inject more into the treatment area. After drawing blood from your arm, the practitioner will put it into a centrifuge which spins it at high speed to create three layers: a plasma layer on top, a platelet layer in the middle, and a red blood cell layer on the bottom.
The nitty-gritty: PRF concentrates platelets to 10x blood concentration vs. 2 to 5x in PRP. The semi-solid platelet layer is removed and injected into the target area. An entire course of treatment involves two to four appointments over six to eight weeks. Afterward, a touch-up treatment every six to twelve months is recommended to maintain results.
These unique treatments involve using your blood to stimulate hair growth or improve skin. In daily life, platelets are generated in response to damaged skin. They are like a scaffold and allow for new skin and hair construction. PRF offers further benefits by providing highly concentrated growth factors to specific areas.
What is the Difference Between PRP and PRF?
PRP is called platelet-rich plasma, and it contains platelets and growth factors. When blood gets spun in the centrifuge at a higher speed, all the cells fall to the button of the tube, creating two layers: a dark red layer containing blood cells on the bottom and a translucent yellow layer containing plasma and platelets on top. The practitioner will extract the top layer of PRP and use it for the injections.
Platelet-Rich Fibrin (PRF) provides more concentrated platelets than PRP treatment. Like PRP, your blood is collected into tubes and placed into a centrifuge. Here is the difference: The blood is spun at a lower speed, so that the fibrin is collected in the tube’s center. The fibrin layer is thicker and contains more platelets, stem cells, and growth factors. More is better when it comes to platelets.
The PRF serum is then injected into the treatment area with a standard needle or via microneedling. Microneedling creates many small punctures in your skin that allow serum to enter and stimulate healing. The platelets fill in any gaps in the broken skin and provide a new surface for new cells to grow. On the skin, this means more collagen and elastin fibers, while on the head more hair cells are grown.
Pros and Cons of PRP and PRF
Now that you’ve read about the possibilities and you are imagining yourself with a gloriously full head of hair or a more youthful face, let’s talk about the downside: the pain. It seems that nothing about beauty is painless. The upside is that nitrous oxide (laughing gas), commonly called ProNox, is available in most offices. Sometimes there’s an up-charge, but it’s well worth it. The ProNox device I’ve seen is a patient-controlled tube that you put into your mouth and then suck in the blend of nitrous and oxygen. You may not laugh, but you’ll feel too high to be able to focus on the pain. Depending on your practitioner, painkillers or other medications to reduce pain and anxiety may also be prescribed.
PRF is somewhat new in skincare and has only been used in the last three to five years. However, it has already been used in dentistry since 2006 to promote healing. So far, these minimally invasive treatments seem to give you the most bang for your buck!
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Photos by CDC and Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash