Platelet-rich plasma consists of two elements: plasma, or the liquid portion of blood, and platelets, a type of blood cell that plays an important role in healing throughout the body. Platelets are well-known for their clotting abilities, but they also contain growth factors that can trigger cell reproduction and stimulate tissue regeneration or healing in the treated area. Platelet-rich plasma is simply blood that contains more platelets than normal.
To create platelet-rich plasma, clinicians take a blood sample from the patient and place it into a device called a centrifuge that rapidly spins the sample, separating out the other components of the blood from the platelets and concentrating them within the plasma.
After creating platelet-rich plasma from a patient’s blood sample, that solution is injected into the target area, such as an injured knee or a tendon. In some cases, the clinician may use ultrasound to guide the injection. The idea is to increase the concentration of specific bioproteins or hormones, called growth factors, in a specific area to accelerate the healing process.
The mechanism behind PRP injections is not completely understood. Studies show that the increased concentration of growth factors in platelet-rich plasma may stimulate or speed up the healing process, shortening healing time for injuries, decreasing pain and even encouraging hair growth.
PRP injections are used for a range of conditions,* from musculoskeletal pain and injuries to cosmetic procedures.