Hair is a form of self-expression. Whether you prefer to grow out your hair or color it in a dozen different ways, your hair tells the world who you are.
And perhaps it’s this human desire for self-expression and individuality that makes hair loss devastating to so many.
Once hair loss starts, many people are tempted to turn to treatments like minoxidil. But recent research studies suggest these conventional treatments may not provide the best benefits. In this article, let’s look at what minoxidil is and why offering your patients platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy may be a good move for both your patients and your business.
Minoxidil, better known by the brand name Rogaine, is a medication used to stimulate hair growth in adult men and women with pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).
Although hair loss is the indication for which minoxidil is best known, it was introduced in the 1970s as a medication to treat high blood pressure. It was only after doctors noticed excessive hair growth (also known as hypertrichosis) in balding patients that led to the development of minoxidil as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia.1
Despite decades of use, the mechanism underlying the hair growth effects of minoxidil remain unclear. The effect is mainly due to a metabolite of minoxidil, minoxidil sulfate. Sulfotransferase, an enzyme located in hair follicles, is responsible for converting minoxidil into minoxidil sulfate. Patients with higher sulfotransferase activity respond better to topical minoxidil treatment compared to those with lower enzyme activity.2
Clinical trials have shown that treatment with 2% or 5% minoxidil solution leads to increased hair growth and decreased hair loss in patients with androgenetic alopecia.
One meta-analysis showed that both 5% and 2% minoxidil provided better results for hair growth than the placebo. Specifically, the study showed mean differences of 8.11 hairs/cm2 and 14.90 hairs/cm2 for 2% and 5% minoxidil treatments, respectively.3
In another study, 31 men with androgenetic alopecia completed 4.5 to 5 years of therapy with 2% and 3% minoxidil. Hair growth peaked at 1 year, and while there was a slow decline in subsequent years, new hair growth was still maintained at levels above baseline.4
Some common side effects of topical minoxidil application include:5,6
Hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth anywhere on the body) occurs more commonly in female patients than in male patients. While there is no clear explanation for this, one theory is that some female patients have a higher number of minoxidil-sensitive follicles than others do. Hypertrichosis also appears to be concentration dependent, with 5% minoxidil solution causing higher incidence of hypertrichosis than lower concentrations.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is an autologous platelet concentrate. As its name suggests, PRP contains a high concentration of platelets, which release growth factors and cytokines that assist in wound healing and tissue regeneration.
When it comes to hair, PRP is thought to stimulate growth in a variety of ways. For example, activated platelets in PRP release growth factors like platelet-derived endothelial growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and more. These growth factors play a major role in cell proliferation, differentiation, and angiogenesis, all of which contribute to hair growth. PRP can also increase the survival of hair follicle cells by activating certain enzymes and signaling pathways.7
One study published in the International Journal of Trichology compared the efficacy of PRP and minoxidil for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. At the end of 6 months, patients treated with PRP had a better outcome on the hair pull test, hair growth questionnaire, and patient satisfaction score. The investigators of the study also noted that side effects of PRP therapy were minimal, which may improve patient compliance.8
Another 2019 report analyzed 19 studies on the use of PRP for the treatment of alopecia areata or androgenetic alopecia. This review found that PRP produced successful hair growth despite variations among the studies analyzed.9
In 2016, a team of researchers compared PRP therapy to 5% minoxidil treatment for another type of hair loss disorder called alopecia areata. While patients treated with either method experienced significant hair growth compared to those receiving the placebo, the effects of PRP were seen much faster. PRP was also the only treatment to reduce short vellus hair and dystrophic hair in patients. This study demonstrated that PRP is a more effective treatment for alopecia areata than minoxidil.10
Hair loss can have a dramatic effect on your patients’ appearance and self-confidence. But chemical treatments like minoxidil often have negative side effects that make them a less appealing option. A safer and more effective treatment option is PRP therapy.
The quality of PRP matters. The patented design of Dr. PRP kits ensure a high concentration of platelets that lead to consistent results. Interested in learning more about PRP? Contact us today at (844) 377-7787 (DR-PRP-US).