Platlet Rich Plasma Treatment
A few years ago, a cosmetic procedure called the “vampire facelift” drew a lot of attention – in part because a lot of celebrities were turning to it to erase the telltale signs of aging, but also because it used processed samples of the patient's own blood to achieve a tissue-healing effect – hence the unusual name. The processed blood samples have another, less gruesome name – platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, and in addition to their use in cosmetic procedures, they're also used in other areas of medicine to stimulate a deep healing response, especially following an injury or after a surgical procedure.
PRP: What is it and how does it work?
Our blood is composed of many elements, including white and red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Platelets contain growth factors that play a significant role in the healing process, stimulating natural healing responses as well as the formation of new, healthy cells to replace cells damaged by injury or disease. During treatment with PRP, a small sample of the patient's own blood is removed and processed to separate the platelets. The platelets are concentrated using a method called centrifugation, then combined with additional blood and then reinjected into the patient in the location where healing is desired. The resulting blood product has significantly more platelets than “normal” blood – up to 10 times as many – which means it may be more effective in initiating that natural healing response.
Although the precise mechanism by which PRP may help promote healing isn't clearly understood, researchers believe it works like this: Once injected, the growth factors in PRP work in two ways – first, by promoting healing responses and new tissue growth at or near the injection site, and second, by drawing special stem cells to the site where those cells “differentiate” into new, healthy tissue.
PRP is widely used in orthopedics to promote healing following injuries to joints, and it's also frequently used during and immediately following surgical procedures to give the body a “head start” toward healing.
PRP in Urology
Studies of the benefits of PRP in urology are in their early stages. However, initial and anecdotal data indicate the procedure may have significant benefits in treating issues like Peyronie's disease or in helping to return sensation and function following removal of the prostate gland. More recently, researchers have begun exploring the benefits of PRP in correcting erectile dysfunction, or ED. The potential for ED treatment is significant: A study from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study found 52 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 reported some degree of impotency, ranging from mild to complete, posing a substantial burden on their sex life and overall quality of life.
Recently, a PRP technique was developed specifically for the treatment of ED using an injection technique called the Priapus Shot©. In this novel treatment, PRP injections are used to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels necessary for the erection process, as well as growth of new, healthy tissue cells to increase firmness as well as overall size of the penis. Treatment consists of four to six injections administered to different areas of the penis to promote new tissue growth throughout the organ. Prior to injecting PRP, the penis is numbed using a topical anesthetic or to reduce any discomfort associated with the shots. Once the injections are complete, patients use a penis pump for 10 minutes each day for several weeks to facilitate the healing process and stimulate new tissue and blood vessel growth. In most cases, the results are permanent, meaning just one treatment will be needed to achieve maximum benefits. Interestingly, PRP injections are also used in women to increase the level of sensitivity in the clitoris.
Is PRP treatment right for you?
The use of PRP in urology and other areas of medicine is still in its earliest stages, and while preliminary and anecdotal data appear promising, the treatment may not be ideal for every patient. The best way to learn whether PRP treatment could be a good solution for your needs is to schedule a consultation appointment with our office. Following an examination and a review of your symptoms and medical history, we can help you decide if PRP treatment is an avenue worth exploring.