Platelet-rich plasma therapy first gained notoriety for its use by athletes looking to speed up the injury-healing process. Today, PRP injections are being used for many other instances where there is a need to help tissues heal and encourage healthy cell growth and regeneration. One of these instances involves the minimization and elimination of scar tissue. If you’re new to the use of platelet-rich plasma injections for scar therapy, here’s what you need to know about this treatment and how it could produce results that may give you healthier, smoother, and more appealing skin.
What Is Platelet-Rich Plasma?
Before explaining how scar therapy with PRP injections works, it helps to know a little bit more about platelet-rich plasma. Let’s start with the platelet part of the equation. Platelets are tiny blood cells that help with the clotting process. Platelets also have special proteins called growth factors that help with the healing process. Platelet-rich plasma is so-named because it’s a mixture of a colorless fluid found in blood known as plasma with a higher concentration of platelets and growth factors than what’s normally found in blood.
How Do PRP Injections Help Minimize Scars?
The beneficial growth factors in platelets help with the creation of new blood vessels while also regenerating tissues. What this does is improve the texture of your skin. Scar therapy with PRP injections minimizes or eliminates scars by stimulating connective tissue cells called fibroblasts and epidermal cells called keratinocytes. When these skin-related cells are produced in a greater quantity, new collagen is created.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. As such, it plays a role in many different processes. One of these is the production of healthy new skin tissue. This new collagen that’s produced around the injection site replaces damaged scar tissue as it develops. As your skin is rejuvenated and regenerated in the affected area, scarring becomes less noticeable.
What Kind of Scars Can Be Treated with PRP Injections?
Let’s take a step back and look at how scars are formed. While many people consider scars unsightly, they do serve a purpose. Scars form whenever the deeper, thicker layer of skin (dermis) is damaged. This damage can happen because of surgery, an injury that could be a cut or some other type of penetrating wound, burns, or even skin damage created after acne outbreaks.
When the dermis is damaged, the body produces new collagen fibers. Collagen is a type of protein that naturally occurs in the body. This protein is what repairs the damage from whatever wounded your skin. The result is a scar, which is tissue that has a different texture than your surrounding skin tissue.
Scar tissue is sometimes temporary. You may have noticed this if you had a scar show up on your skin after sustaining a minor cut. In this case, you would likely notice a red mark on your skin. It would likely get lighter over time until it completely disappeared. However, this process does not always happen. In some situations, you are left with a permanent scar.
It’s when a scar has become permanent that it’s time to explore your options with treatments that could minimize or eliminate it if you are not able to live with a scar that will not likely go away completely on its own. One of these options is scar therapy with PRP injections. What’s also appealing about scar therapy is that it can be used on all types of scars that are visible on the outside of your skin.
When Should You Consider Scar Therapy with PRP Injections?
It’s not unusual for scars to gradually fade over time and become less noticeable. But, as mentioned above, there are times when scars remain visible. Whether or not visible scars bother you is largely dependent on where they are located and what your personal level of comfort is with your skin’s appearance. If you have a surgery scar on your stomach or back, for instance, you may not find it as bothersome as one that’s on your face, arm, or neck. Acne scars, in particular, can be a source of personal embarrassment.
While it’s often possible to conceal visible scars with makeup, you may reach a point where you don’t want to go through the daily routine of having to apply fresh makeup to conceal your scars. Other times, scars are too deep or discolored to be effectively or fully concealed with makeup. Scar therapy with PRP injections is also worth considering under the following circumstances:
- Your scars have not faded much after several years
- You have a scar that’s difficult to conceal because it’s oddly shaped, thick, in an inconvenient and highly visible location, or fairly lengthy
- You don’t want to have invasive cosmetic surgery to repair your skin in the affected area
How Do You Prepare for Scar Therapy?
The first step with scar therapy with PRP injections is to examine the area where you have unwanted scar tissue. This is an important step since the nature of your scar will determine whether or not PRP injections may be effective. Generally, the scar needs to be one that would likely respond well to tissue stimulation and regeneration. Also, if you have a newer scar, you may be advised to wait a bit longer to see if it naturally fades.
If it appears you may be a good candidate for scar therapy with platelet-rich plasma injections, you may be asked about additional factors that could affect your reaction to the injections. These factors typically include your overall health and any skin conditions you may have in the area with scar tissue.
You may also be advised to temporarily refrain from taking blood thinning medications or other medications that may affect how your body reacts to injections. And if you smoke, you may be advised to stop a few weeks prior to treatment so that your body’s natural healing processes aren’t inhibited. If there is a need to view the site where your scar is located to check for other tissue damage that’s not visible, image tests may be performed. However, it’s usually not necessary to perform image tests when PRP injections are used for scar therapy.
How Is PRP-Based Scar Therapy Performed?
If it’s determined that you may benefit from scar therapy with PRP injections, you’ll get started with this process by having a sample of your own blood taken. It’s similar to having a standard blood test. The collected blood is spun at very high speeds in a piece of lab equipment called a centrifuge. This is done to remove red and white blood cells from the plasma.
What remains is a mixture that contains a high amount of beneficial growth factors. The specially prepared mixture is then injected into the area where you have unwanted scar tissue. It’s not unusual for a local anesthetic to be used as well during scar therapy to increase comfort.
What Happens after Scar Therapy?
Following scar therapy with PRP injections, there is typically little or no downtime. Most patients are able to get back to their normal routine after scar therapy is completed. If there is minimal discomfort, you may be advised to apply ice to the treated area or use over-the-counter pain-relievers.
How Long Does It Take to See Results with PRP Injections?
There is no standard time to see results with this type of scar therapy. Because your body needs time to react to the enriched platelet mixture, it could take several days or weeks to notice an improvement with your skin in the area where you had a visible scar.
Over time, however, you could also notice additional improvements with your skin’s texture and appearance. As new collagen is produced, the scar tissue should become less noticeable. Your scar may not disappear altogether, although it is possible that it could. However, a more extensive scar may be less of a personal distraction if it’s no longer easily detectable. During the initial period when your skin is healing and regenerating, you may be advised to:
- Avoid or minimize sun exposure
- Not use certain products on your skin in the treated area – e.g., soap, facial scrubs, makeup, and other topical applications
- Keep the treated area clean with gently washing
Once the PRP mixture facilitates the healing and regeneration process, you may also notice skin that has a more consistent texture. Increased volume could also make your scar less noticeable. The boost in collagen and elastin growth (elastin is a protein that allows tissues to regain or retain their shape) at the injection site could further enhance the results you’ll experience with scar therapy with PRP injections.
What about Combing Scar Therapy with Other Skin Treatments?
With scars that do not fully heal or disappear after PRP injections, you may benefit from additional skin treatments after you complete your scar therapy sessions. Even if PRP injections only minimize scarring, the results with scary therapy could enhance your results with any complementary treatments you may opt to have in addition to PRP injections.
What Are the Benefits of Scar Therapy?
One of the most appealing benefits associated with scar therapy for PRP injections is that it’s generally considered a safe procedure. This is because your own blood is used to prepare the PRP mixture. Also, if you are not ready to consider cosmetic surgery, you may appreciate injections with PRP instead of a more invasive approach to scar removal. The results are more gradual. Even so, many patients who respond well to scar therapy end up being pleased with the results and with any additional treatments they may have to produce the desired appearance in the affected area. However, it’s entirely possible to experience the desired results with PRP injections alone.
The number of scar therapy sessions with PRP injections you’ll need will depend on several factors, including the nature of the scar, where it’s located, and what type of injury or wound to the skin initially caused the scar to develop. Your skin type and other factors will be taken into consideration as well. With acne scarring, for example, many patients see the desired results after 1-3 treatment sessions. The first step you can take is to visit Flores Plastic Surgery in Miami, FL. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!