We recently published a piece on treating thinning eyebrows and eyelashes. In my exploration of the topic I also wanted to address female and male pattern baldness. I turned to Dr. Mitchell A. Kline, a board-certified clinical dermatologist with a private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He specializes in melanoma surgery and staging and non-invasive melanoma detection including total body dermoscopy and DermSpectra full body digital imaging. While Dr. Kline is considered the go-to doctor in New York for skin cancer concerns, his practice also offers a broad array of creative anti-aging and cosmetic treatments including lasers, injectables, fillers, photo-facials and chemical peels.
He is also one of the few doctors in New York that offers Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP facials, otherwise known as the Vampire Facial, as well as PRP for hair regeneration. Dr. Kline is a true innovator and leader in the field of dermatology. When I learned that he successfully grew himself a virtually full head of hair using PRP, I had to learn more. I sat down with Dr. Kline to gain a better understanding of the treatment.
What’s all the buzz about Platelet Rich Plasma?
MK: It seems like every week there’s a new breakthrough cosmetic treatment boasting remarkable rejuvenation and anti-aging benefits. They come; they go. Many amount to more hype than help, with a hefty price tag and minimal patient benefit. So when a treatment like platelet rich plasma (PRP) generates buzz, and sticks around, the dermatological community pays attention, especially when that treatment is rooted in historical medicine. With PRP, we’re witnessing a renaissance in a technique that was officially developed 30 years ago to assist in the recovery of orthopedic and nerve injuries. Now it has gained traction for use in facial rejuvenation and, most relevant to my practice, hair growth treatment that can work for both men and women.
What is PRP and how does it work?
MK: When a new patient comes in for PRP treatment her blood is drawn just like during a blood test and then placed in a centrifuge that is spun, sometimes twice, to concentrate the plasma with rich blood-clotting particles called platelets. The result is what we call platelet rich plasma or PRP. Though this can all sound a little Frankensteinish on the face of it, the procedure is all natural. Everything involved in a ‘traditional’ PRP treatment belongs to the individual patient without the addition of synthetic chemicals or actives. Blood is simply being concentrated through the precise and rapid spinning process. While some practices and physicians add stem cells and other natural hormones to the PRP mixture as part of treatment, this is done predominantly outside of the USA.
How does this come into play with hair loss treatments?
MK: Unlike the popular vampire facial, that involves microneedling the PRP into the face, PRP for hair loss involves injecting the PRP into the scalp through a series of sterile injections. There is no pain, wounding or visible evidence that anything has been done to the treatment area.
Are there any side effects?
MK: Bruising is rare even for those patients on blood thinners. This is likely due to the clotting action of the platelets in the blood. Some mild warmth can be expected in the hours after the procedure but that’s about it.
How does it work?
MK: While the science is still catching up to the procedure, what is clear is that the growth factors present in the highly concentrated platelet and plasma mixture (which is effective at healing and anti-inflammatory support) helps to stimulate hair growth by converting resting hair follicles into an active state.
What results have you seen to date?
MK: Before introducing a treatment into the practice I always try it on myself first. 18 months ago I had a large, smooth balding area and decided to try PRP therapy without topical or oral therapy. When I reached the third month I was growing substantial amounts of fuzz over my previously smooth, bare bald spot. At that point I began the daily process of using enhanced minoxidil topical hair treatment daily in conjunction with PRP. After three more months I was stunning my patients, some of whom were calling me Benjamin Button. My before and after pictures reinforced what I knew, I was re-growing hair! While major studies on PRP remain small and results still can vary widely, our practice has seen great, even transformative, results with PRP treatment. We’ve seen results for both male and female pattern hair loss.
Who is a good candidate for this treatment?
MK: The range of patients who can benefit from treatment is vast. There can be great results when PRP is used in conjunction with hair transplant treatment or even for some patients who are suffering from mild to severe hair loss and for whom hair transplant surgery is not an option. It’s also never too late to get started. Our oldest PRP patient is 86 years old and thrilled with her results!
What other treatments work well with PRP for hair loss?
MK: After seeing success with PRP alone, our practice has started to combine PRP treatment with the FDA approved oral finasteride (Propecia) for those men and women willing to take it orally. We also prescribe a topical minoxidil in a proprietary blend to help boost results. Retinoids and topical male hormone blockers can work well too. In addition, we are working to further improve consistent and even more stunning results.
What scientific advancements are in store for PRP down the road?
MK: While the current PRP treatment process is quick, safe and extremely simple for patients, we are always striving to use equally safe topical additives that will act with synergy to improve PRP for frontal as well as vertex (top of the head) androgenetic alopecia. Other types of alopecia as well as stem cell treatments are in collaborative trials outside of the USA in several countries. We look forward to seeing what results are possible with these innovations. There’s no doubt that this is an exciting time for patient care and innovative hair loss treatment!
For more information on Dr. Kline, please visit Kline Dermatology’s website.
By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie