Hair loss can be a temporary or permanent condition affecting the scalp or entire body and usually affects most people at some time or other in their lives. The onset of hair loss may be attributed to various factors e.g., a part of the aging process, heredity, hormonal changes in the body or may be attributed to some medical conditions like cancer etc. Loss of hair is first noticeable in the form of patchy bald spots on the scalp, receding hairline on top of the head etc.
Loss of hair may be emotionally devastating and traumatic for some persons since it is generally associated with the aging process. Many patients suffer from loss of self-confidence, low self-esteem, and shame due to baldness and thinning hair and this impacts not only their social life but their work performance.
While hair loss is certainly a cause for concern, the good news is that, in the current scenario, many hair restoration options are available which can help a person deal with this condition. Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Hair Treatment are two hair restoration techniques that are used to combat hair loss. Let us have a close look at these two techniques as well as their respective merits and demerits with a view to help you determine which is the ideal solution for you:
What is Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a cosmetic treatment which has become widely popular since it is non-invasive and does not involve any surgery or anesthesia. The illusion of fuller hair is created by the use of microneedles to implant precise, tiny, layered hair-like dots of pigment on the scalp and carried out so skillfully as to replicate the look of a shadow on the scalp. This procedure can be used to cover up bald spots or scars. Cosmetic-grade permanent inks are used in this procedure, which is done by trained practitioners.
The SMP process is usually spaced out over 2-3 sessions, with each session lasting 2-4 hours. The procedure involves the usage of local anesthesia in order to reduce discomfort. The recovery time after SMP is minimal, and patients can resume normal activities almost immediately after the procedure.
This is a semi-permanent solution since the skin undergoes the natural process of exfoliation. The effects may last from 5 to 7 years. After this period, it may be necessary to review the colour of the pigments, and if it has faded, touch-up sessions may be necessary.
What is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Hair Treatment?
Plasma Treatment (PT) for hair, also known as Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy (PRP), is a minimally-invasive and nonsurgical treatment where the platelets found in a patient’s blood are used to stimulate hair regrowth. The basic premise behind this treatment is that the platelets present in your blood promote healing and growth.
During PRP therapy, a blood sample is drawn from the patient. The same is then processed by spinning it in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma from other blood components. This plasma, full of proteins and growth factors, is injected into your scalp to activate the hair follicles. The process is meticulous — with injections being administered across the scalp, approximately at every half inch over the area of thinning hair. This promotes the regeneration of hair, making it thicker and fuller. While the process is not completely painless, people are usually able to handle the pain. It has little to no recovery time.
The PRP therapy is spread out over three sessions of about one hour each. Ideally, there is a gap of at least 4-6 weeks between the sessions. Additionally, maintenance sessions need to be scheduled every 4-6 months.
Before the procedure, it is advisable to report all medications you are taking, including herbs/supplements. In certain instances, you may be advised against undergoing PRP e.g., in case you are on blood thinners, have a history of drug abuse etc.
Since there is a lack of sufficient research to prove the efficacy of PRP, hair restoration using this technique is still at a nascent stage.
Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) Vs. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Hair Therapy
The following factors are of great significance and may be considered in order to arrive at an informed decision between SMP and PRP therapy:
Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)
o A non-invasive hair loss treatment that only creates the appearance of a fuller head of hair. - effectively it is nothing more than a well-done optical illusion because the added pigments look like authentic hair follicles and give the illusion of hair, although no new hair is grown as a result of the treatment.
o SMP involves 2-3 sessions spaced about a week apart.
o More durable solution - SMP can be used for nearly 5-7 years with very low maintenance, except for the usual scalp care. Touch-up treatments may be necessary only when the pigments begin to fade.
o More affordable option keeping in mind the long-term outlook and requirements.
o Safer and more researched solution - SMP involves significantly lower risks as compared to PRP. No blood is modified or injected, instead, each hair follicle is accounted for and tattooed over to create a permanent hairline. Virtually anyone can undergo SMP procedures.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Hair Therapy
o A non-surgical and minimally-invasive treatment wherein the platelets present in a person’s blood is used to stimulate hair regrowth – the hair that grows is real and natural.
o PRP requires around 3 sessions that are spread over 4-6 weeks.
o Displays quicker results, however, maintenance injections are needed every 4-6 months to control hair loss and sustain hair regrowth.
o More expensive in view of the continuous maintenance involved.
o An element of uncertainty and lack of research involved in PRP - it must be kept in mind that any therapy involving injection runs the risk of injury to vessels and nerves, infections, scarring of tissue and potential calcification at points of injection. As a result, people with certain health risks (history of alcohol abuse etc.) may not be able to undergo PRP therapy.
Scalp Micropigmentation and Plasma Therapy are increasingly becoming popular as hair loss treatment techniques in the world. Seek guidance from a professional or speak to an expert before deciding which option is best suited for you - he/she would guide you based on the extent of your hair loss and your long-term expectations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which treatment is more affordable?
The cost of each treatment varies depending on the extent of the treatment and the location of the clinic. However, SMP is generally more affordable than PRP, making it a good option for those on a budget.
Are SMP or PRP results permanent?
The results of SMP are generally long-lasting but may require touch-ups over time. The results of PRP are not permanent, and patients may need to undergo periodic treatments to maintain their results.
Is SMP or PRP treatment painful?
Both SMP and PRP are generally well-tolerated, although some patients may experience mild discomfort during the treatments. However, both treatments are typically much less painful than surgical options like hair transplant surgery.
How long does each treatment take?
SMP can typically be completed in a single session or over the course of several appointments, depending on the extent of the treatment. PRP treatment typically involves multiple sessions over a period of several months.