The PRP Facelift, Part I Science

by Kate Dee, MD

Skin rejuvenation with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is exciting the world of aesthetics because it is a natural way to stimulate your own cells to revitalize the skin. PRP rejuvenation treatments plump and tighten the skin, diminish wrinkles, photo aging, and pore size. The PRP facelift is also effective in the treatment of stretch marks and acne scars. This post will explain the science of how and why PRP works. Part II will explain the procedure itself.

Underneath the epidermis (the outer part of the skin where your skin cells slough off) is the dermis, where the fibroblasts live. Fibroblasts are the cells responsible for making collagen and elastin, the proteins that make your skin thick, smooth and springy. As you age, those fibroblasts go dormant. They are still there, but they're basically asleep. As a result, the skin starts to thin out and sag. We start to see wrinkles first, then droopy skin and volume loss. But-- now we have an effective way keep those fibroblasts working, so we can slow that from happening and even reverse the signs of aging.

The fibroblasts in the dermis are about 2mm deep to the surface. Lasers and chemical peels work by destroying the skin down to the dermal layer, forcing those cells to make new skin. This is very effective, but complications are common such as scarring and hyper- and hypo-pigmentation. There is also significant downtime as the skin repairs itself.

The PRP facelift offers a non-ablative method of stimulating those fibroblasts with the body's own natural components. We all have natural human growth factors and cytokines circulating in our blood. When blood is spun down in a centrifuge, it separates into layers. PRP is made from the plasma and the platelet layer, mixed together forming a liquid that is actually golden in color. PRP facial rejuvenation uses these growth factors and cytokines in combination with micro needling technique to wake up the fibroblasts, stimulating them to grow and make collagen and elastin, making the skin thicker and springier, reducing wrinkles and scarring. Because the procedure uses the body's own products, there is no risk of rejection or allergic reaction. All this is done without damaging the skin and with essentially no down time.

The effects of PRP treatment to the fibroblasts builds over time. The fibroblasts respond by making collagen and elastin, but this is not instantaneous. The maximal effect is usually seen in approximately 6 weeks. Part II of this series will explain how the PRP facelift is performed.

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