What is Alopecia Areata?
There are many different types of hair loss. Not every person who is suffering from hair loss is experiencing androgenic alopecia. Another common type of hair loss is called alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is characterized by small patches of complete hair loss in certain areas. The loss can be on any part of the body but is most commonly noticed on the scalp. Usually, there are multiple patches of hair loss, each about the size of a coin.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where your body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles in that certain area. The most common treatment is steroid injections administered by a dermatologist. These steroid injections can help the condition and in many cases, the hair will regrow, but not in all cases. If the hair does regrow, it may take months or years to see full regrowth.
Unfortunately, a hair transplant is not an option for people with alopecia areata. Since the condition is autoimmune, the immune system will attack the grafts if a transplant is done. If you are suffering from alopecia areata we recommend reaching out to a trusted dermatologist. There are specific cases of alopecia areata that involve lesions that have not changed over an extended period of time with which a transplant is an option. These established cases are not active and will generally take transplants and allow the grafts to grow. We recommend talking to a hair restoration specialist to determine if this is the case.
However, there are treatment options that have varying success with alopecia areata. One treatment that has started to gain popularity is using PRP injections in combination with steroid injections.
In general, the treatment of choice for alopecia areata has always been steroid injections. The steroids can suppress the immune response in the area to sometimes allow the hair to regrow in the areas of loss. Steroids tend to work well for most patients, however, not everyone responds to the steroid injections for the treatment of their alopecia areata. Since the introduction of PRP for hair loss, people have been injecting PRP into alopecia areata lesions to see if they help with treatment.
What is Scarring Alopecia?
Scarring alopecia is a rare form of hair loss. It is a category of hair loss that includes multiple forms of alopecia that all include hair loss with a subsequent replacement of the hair follicle with scar tissue. It is not generally understood why this happens, but all scarring alopecia involves some inflammation reactions that affect the stem cells and sebaceous glands surrounding the hair follicle. If the inflammation destroys these stem cells and sebaceous glands (and hair follicles), there is no hope of regenerating that hair follicle.
To diagnose these conditions, a scalp biopsy must be done to confirm the presence of scar tissue. Sometimes the scar tissue build-up is underneath the skin, so the condition can go unnoticed until a lot of hair is lost. Treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory medication that attempts to control the inflammation that leads to the scar tissue build-up.
Scarring alopecia, since there are so few treatments for it, is another type of alopecia that PRP has been tried with. Somewhat surprisingly, PRP does appear to have some effect with scarring alopecia. As long as PRP is administered before the scar tissue completely destroys the hair follicle and surrounding stem cells, the PRP can slow the scarring process and protect the existing hair for as long as possible.
Many people with scarring alopecia turn to hair transplants to try to replace the hair that is being killed by scar tissue buildup. Unfortunately, this is not an option, as the buildup of scar tissue will kill off the transplanted hairs eventually as well. Much more research needs to be done to determine a cause and subsequently, a treatment, for scarring alopecia.
For all types of hair loss, we recommend talking to hair restoration specialists. There are many different types of hair loss, with different causes and treatments, and each must be approached differently. While there are exciting new treatment options emerging, not all of them are appropriate for all types of hair loss.
How Does PRP treatment work?
So how does PRP work? The treating clinic takes a small blood sample, which is then treated in a centrifuge to separate the platelets, from the other blood components, like red or white blood cells. The PRP has a highly concentrated number of platelets in the plasma, which release essential growth proteins. This mix is injected into the scalp using a small, thin needle. The growth factors released by the platelets can help the hair to grow a little bit stronger, faster, and thicker. PRP is also best utilized when combined with other treatments for hair loss.
Besides the growth factors themselves acting on the hair, studies show that PRP can decrease hair shedding relatively quickly. As you age, the shedding phase of your hair can increase in length, which causes the hair to look thinner. PRP can cause the growth phases of the hair to get longer in length, which results in an increased count of hair on the head at any given time.
PRP is a great option for people with thinning hair, especially when combined with other treatments such as daily supplements or prescription drugs like finasteride. PRP is also a great option for people who do not like the idea of a daily hair routine, as PRP injections can be done up to every 3-6 months without losing the effect of the growth factors.
PRP turns out to be an effective treatment for alopecia areata, with one study even claiming PRP can prevent future breakouts of new lesions. While that may not be the case entirely, it is clear that PRP is effective in treating alopecia areata. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or combined with steroid injections to help reduce the size of lesions and allow hair to begin to regrow in the areas of loss.
These are the best treatments for alopecia areata, but what about other forms of alopecia? We know that PRP is a popular treatment for the most common type of hair loss, androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. However, there are other types of alopecia, such as scarring alopecia.
As the highest-rated hair transplant company in Chicago, we encourage you to price shop around. We are confident that when the research is finished, the choice will be easy. If you’re ready to get going, you can schedule a free consultation here.
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