Scalp Injections and Alopecia
So, what are scalp injections? What is this stuff that doctors are putting into your scalp to try to grow your hair? And how does it work?
Generally speaking, scalp injections are a corticosteroid medication, often something called triamcinolone acetonide. Corticosteroids work by decreasing inflammation. Inflammation in your scalp and around your hair follicles can cause your hair to come out. A classic example of this is the disease alopecia areata.
By decreasing the inflammation around your hair follicles, corticosteroid (steroid) shots can help give your hair the opportunity to regrow—at least for some types of hair loss.
Besides alopecia areata, corticosteroid shots can be used for traction alopecia, and several types of inflammatory hair loss like CCCA and discoid lupus, among others.
Corticosteroid injections are not the same as PRP, which is another newer form of treatment of hair loss, which we discuss here.
One of the most exciting trends in hair loss treatments is platelet rich plasma (PRP) which has been shown to help with hair growth. PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections for hair loss are done by withdrawing some of your own blood from your arm, spinning it down to separate out the part that is rich in the platelets, and then injecting this component back into your scalp where you have hair loss.
PRP injections can help with hair growth because they contain many growth factors that cause your sleeping (dormant) hair follicles to resume growing hair again and can also cause new follicles to develop and begin to grow hair. PRP treatments for hair loss appear to be safe and well tolerated by most patients when done by a qualified physician.
Using PRP Injections for Hair Loss
There is an impressive and growing list of publications that show that PRP injections can help to regrow hair for many people. Dr. Jerry Shapiro, a renowned hair loss expert from the NYU Langone Medical Center, found that nearly 3 out of 4 patients treated for androgenetic alopecia (female pattern hair loss) with a combination PRP therapy experienced some hair growth. Typically, the people treated with the PRP therapy noticed a response to the treatment after about 2 to 4 months. PRP treatments for hair loss appear to work well in combination with other hair loss treatments like minoxidil.
Hair Loss and PRP
Most of the published studies on PRP show its use for conditions like female and male pattern hair loss and alopecia areata. There is limited data to support recommending PRP for hair loss in conditions like CCCA—though there are physicians that use it for other conditions. For female pattern hair loss, minoxidil/Rogaine® is clinically proven to help regrow hair. Studies seem to indicate that adding PRP to the mix might help regrow hair even more—a synergistic effect. If you want to read even more detail about PRP, read this post.
Cost of PRP
Unfortunately, PRP injections for hair loss aren’t cheap. PRP injections can run between $500 to $2000 dollars per treatment. Many dermatologists that treat hair loss with PRP charge around $800-$1000 on average per treatment. Typically, several treatments are recommended, along with follow up or maintenance treatments to help maintain the hair growth that you experience.
Lastly do your research, who does the treatment, it is part of a plan to treat hair loss or just taking it because you heard somebody say it works. Results vary, so consulting a doctor that specializes in hair loss will establish a plan that will provide the best chances to solve your hair loss.