04 May Using your own body’s ability to heal itself with platelet rich plasma
The core appeal of PRP (short for Platelet Rich Plasma), which we offer here at MUSE Clinic in Chatswood, is its status as the ultimate in natural healing. In essence we take a blood sample from the individual person and immediately put it in a centrifuge, which spins the blood at such high speed that the red blood cells separate from the platelet-rich plasma, the golden substance that contains hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which play a crucial important part in the healing of injuries. By isolating this precious ‘liquid gold’ from the blood plasma, you can reinject it back into the skin in a concentration that is up to 10 times richer in the precious growth factors than is typically found in blood. This triggers and amplifies the body’s own extraordinary, natural healing process.
The body is already primed to self-heal. Think about when you cut or scratch yourself in the kitchen. It is seemingly miraculous how clotting will immediately stop active bleeding, then that clot signals the other cells to rush into the wound and start growing collagen and new tissue to pull the skin together again. The skin repairs and even remodels itself, and then a number of weeks or months later the skin will be flawless once more.
What makes PRP treatment so distinctive is that we harness the body’s own ability to self-repair, giving the skin more of what it needs to repair. By injecting the richer plasma back into the areas of skin where we want to see amplified repair, we get more collagen, elastin and natural hyaluronic acid (the moisture-binding substance in our skin that helps create hydration in skin). It is a nice, gradual progressive treatment with no external chemicals added, so there is no risk of allergy or reaction. We just use your blood – nothing else. As a medical practitioner, I find this a hugely appealing approach.
How does PRP fit into your clinical skincare regimen?
Platelet rich plasma integrates really well with the other solutions that we offer at MUSE clinic. While PRP doesn’t tackle everything that we see with ageing or address the volume concerns with the ageing face, it certainly gives skin that maximum kickstart.
If we work on improving or maintaining the youthful structure and foundation of the facial features, get the contouring and shape right and soften lines with anti-wrinkle injections, then PRP buffs the surface tone of the skin beautifully. We primarily use PRP for improving tone, texture and fine lines, and have seen results in our patients’ skin – it feels and looks smoother, firmer and more lifted.
PRP is a great place to start for newcomers and those who would rather take a more natural, softly, softly approach to skin enhancement and anti ageing. If you are not keen on injections, dermal fillers, facial lasers or don’t want to cross the line into chemical peels, using your very own blood is an elegant solution.
Can I use PRP anywhere else?
In principle, why would you stop at the jawline when it comes to helping skin help itself? PRP is also effective on the décolletage, which is an often damaged area due to so much exposure to the Australian sun, especially when we are wearing skimpy summer clothing. In my experience, while many people apply sunscreen on their face and even further down the neck, far fewer apply SPF protection down to the chest. I see a lot of photo damage there: crinkly, crepey tissue and hyperpigmentation in the neck to chest area. This area is great for the wound healing powers of boosted growth factors.
I have also applied platelet rich plasma to hands before with great results. I find that the skin on hands often requires a combination approach. We can remove visible skin pigmentation with laser. We can even volumise the hands with dermal fillers to hide the increasingly sunken appearance that comes exposed tendons and blood vessels. We can then apply PRP over the surface as a finishing touch to improve the superficial skin quality. It’s all about layering the treatments!
In my view however, PRP is generally better suited to the thinner tissue of eyes, necks and crepey arms. We all get that crinkliness as we get older, but most women want to wear sleeveless dresses as long as they can, so we need to intervene to help give the body a fighting chance to maintain skin elasticity as long as possible.
Various medical professionals have also investigated the use of platelet rich plasma in genital areas as part of the new wave of vaginal rejuvenation, which targets the overall structural tightness of the vagina as it becomes more lax with age and post-childbirth. One doctor trademarked the ‘O Shot’ treatment where the practitioner injects PRP into the vaginal wall or to improve blood supply to those areas, boosting cellular repair and rejuvenation as well as increasing vaginal dryness as well. Not only does the ‘O’ shot help post-menopausal or perimenopausal women with the diminished quality of the vaginal skin, but there can be some sexual advantage to boosting the blood supply to this area, which increases the possibility of orgasm. Men can even have the “P Shot” where PRP is injected in to the penis to improve blood flow and reportedly improve the quality of their erection. The market here in Australia for aesthetic work in the genital area is small market, but increasing – which I think is related to the cultural exposure to porn and more imagery than we have ever seen before. I think women – and men – are comparing themselves more than ever. There is a growing awareness that this is another option on the menu. Outside of aesthetics, there are other applications of platelet rich plasma in medicine, for orthopaedic and muscular-skeletal problems, so it is an exciting new field.
On the whole though, faces are a great and easy place to start. We have developed expertise in PRP here at MUSE, and it is one of my preferred ways to start the rejuvenation journey and help skin start to bloom.
HELP ME HELP YOU Lifestyle choices and cosmetic rejuvenation
How much does your lifestyle impact the treatments and intervention on the menu at a clinic like MUSE? When clients approach us, we embark on a tailor made, customised program together, which I think of as a partnership. There are things that I can do to help a patient’s face and body look better; equally, there are things that the patient can do to optimise those results.
Of course, we expect everyone that walks in the door to have a life. It is part of everyday living to unwind with a drink, work too hard sometimes and hit the beach on a gorgeous, sunny day. But the biological reality remains that there are ways to enhance, rather than sabotage, what we do for you here at MUSE. Staying hydrated and getting a good night’s sleep are going to boost a treatment’s effectiveness and help the body’s own biomechanisms give you the full benefit of what I am creating with filler, laser, peels and PRP. My advice is always going to be, don’t book in a treatment then go out and have 8 tequilas.
I am open to taking on a client who admits to partying hard or is a smoker. In some ways their skin may be in even more need of my help, as smoking alone has a very damaging effect on blood supply to the skin. I am not here to judge; I am just here to heal. I will always be upfront though – very high alcohol intake and carcinogens from smoking will cause healing treatments to slow down and take longer, so it will be a lengthier process to reach the endpoint of glowing skin.
I know of medical practitioners who are not interested in working with smokers, in case they do not get the desired results. I don’t think in terms of a potential client being ‘not worthy’ however. If a smoker wants to invest in their skin, I am happy to help them, as long as they are aware that this may diminish the effect of our treatments. The bottom line is that they are going to get a better result if they stop smoking. Short term heavy drinking, beyond everyday social drinking of a few units of alcohol, increases the skin’s bruise rate, post injectible treatment, and statistically comes with other risk factors that are detrimental to health. For example, heavy drinkers are more likely to smoke.
I find that cosmetic rejuvenation and looking after yourself tend to go hand in hand: those interested in finding out how to brake-pad the effects of ageing actually start to modify their lifestyle anyway. If someone is going to go to the trouble and expense of treatments, they instinctively edge towards an early night, making that call themselves – “maybe I won’t have that cocktail.” When people are investing in their face and appearance, the majority of the time they are asking me what they can do to prolong the good effects. They want to look after their investment.
Another way that clients can boost the work that I do is by being vigilant about SPF protection against the sun’s harmful rays. It makes sense to prevent future damage while I am repairing past damage. I always give the same homework: SPF 50+ sun protection every single day. You get more than enough sun exposure on peripheral parts of your body to get vitamin D, you can afford to block the face from premature ageing. Apply, reapply. Please note, SPF in your foundation is NOT adequate as it usually hovers around 15%. You need separate sunscreen to get the effect of high SPF. It is so worth it.
Asian women are a cosmetic doctor’s dream example of taking care of the skin. Because white, even-toned skin is so prized in their culture, they are vigilant about wearing visors, broad brimmed hats and scarves. We try to do the same thing for our clients by providing top quality sunscreen – we recommend medibrand Ultraceuticals.
All in all, looking after yourself means the treatments won’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
Skin always reflects overall good health. Eat enough protein; drink plenty of water before you get thirsty; ditch processed fast food. Your body will grow better collagen and you will GLOW.
By Dr Stephen Lowe
More information about PRP:
Below Dr Lowe using PRP for an upper and lower eyelid rejuvenation