Stem cell technology has the promise to change medicine forever. From athletes looking to return quickly from tendon injuries that usually require surgery and months of recovery to celebs looking for the next big thing in anti-aging medicine. These two seemingly unrelated areas of medicine are, incredibly, treated by the same new therapy. Enter Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy. Over the past few years, more and more buzz has surrounded the technology in the celeb world as many high profile figures have had what has been dubbed “vampire facials”. The list of figures includes Kim Kardashian, Bar Rafaeli and Stephen Bar. Undergoing simple injections they claim the therapy has anti-aging effects better than botox. But is there any truth in the claims?
What is platelet rich plasma therapy?
To understand whether this stem cell technology has the potential to stop aging, it’s best to have an idea of the biology behind it. Your blood is made up of a variety of different components. The most obvious of this is red blood cells which carry oxygen to muscles and tissues that need it. But there is also plasma, which contains a number of components including platelets – a protein that usually helps the blood clot when you cut yourself and bleed. Their platelets are therefore actively released when you injure yourself and have a number of roles in the healing process. In platelet-rich plasma therapy, platelets and growth factors (another component of plasma) are taken from the patient’s own blood. They are purified using a centrifuge and then injected back into the patient. This has been found to have regenerative properties and help healing! Using the patient’s own platelets also comes at a huge advantage in that there is no risk of rejection. This is a serious complication of other therapies like blood or organ donation but is avoided by using the patient’s own blood.
Does plasma therapy work for aging?
The big question is whether stem cell plasma therapy works as an anti-aging medication. Recent scientific work by Doctors in Verona, Italy suggests that it may. In an article published in September 2017 they found that platelet-rich plasma therapy increased reticular dermis thickness with a fibrotic aspect. In English, that means after injection the skin becomes thicker and fuller because more elastic and collagen fibers were laid down – in effect reversing the aging process on skin! Although this is one of the first studies down on the therapy it is a promising result and backs up the claims made by Kim Kardashian who is a champion of the new therapy.