Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a treatment that uses a patient’s own blood to stimulate healing of an injured tissue. It primarily employs one component of the blood, the platelets, to achieve its aims. However, blood is made up of many biological components. Each of which has important biological potential.
Blood is composed of four major parts:
55% – Plasma 44% – Red blood cells (erythrocytes) ~1% – white blood cells (leukocytes) ~1% – platelets (thrombocytes)
Plasma is the liquid component of blood and keeps your body hydrated, carries proteins and dissolved minerals, and facilitates the circulation of blood throughout your vessels.
Red blood cells (RBCs) are the major cellular component of blood and are responsible for carrying fresh oxygen to your tissues and carbon dioxide waste away.
White blood cells or leukocytes is a category of immune cells that exist in your blood for your protection. They include Lymphocytes, Monocytes, and Neutrophils, to name a few. They are responsible for identifying and destroying pathogens, as well as triggering the inflammatory response to injury. Leukocytes help heal wounds not only by fighting infection but also by clearing matter such as dead cells, tissue debris, and old red blood cells.
Platelets are the namesake component of PRP. When circulating in the body, they are involved in the blood-clotting response. However, studies have shown that they can be utilized in a variety of ways to promote, and in some cases expedite healing of an injured tissue. Within platelets are growth factors that may help initiate tissue repair. Growth factors derived from platelets have also been shown to be responsible for bone regeneration, development of new blood vessels and stimulation of the wound healing process. The concentrated platelets in PRP may help optimize the conditions for healing.
How do we make PRP?
To make PRP the process starts with a step similar to donating blood, but a much smaller volume of blood is taken (typically 30 mL to 60 mL). Processing the sample takes less than 15 minutes. Processing involves spinning the blood in a centrifuge in order to concentrate the platelets and growth factors.
The concentration step is important. Our systems typically are capable of concentrating the platelets to 5-7 times the baseline level in the sample. This reduces the total volume of the PRP but focuses the potent PRP at the site of injury. Studies have shown that samples that cannot achieve 5 times or greater above baseline likely have little effect on healing. Moreover, over-concentrating the sample (to >20 times) can also prove to be detrimental as well.
For these reasons, it is important to know what PRP is, and what it is not! Not all PRP is the same. To receive the highest quality PRP, and in turn, the best results possible, it’s important to understand how it’s made.
References: Giusti I, et al., “Identification of an Optimal Concentration of Platelet Gel for Promoting Angiogenesis in Human Endothelial Cells.” Transfusion 2009; 49 (4): 771–778.
El-Sharkawy H, et al., “Platelet-Rich Plasma: Growth Factors and Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Properties.” J Periodontol 2007; 78 (4): 661–669