PRP Gel Therapy-what is it?
We know that the body has the ability to heal itself. Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy (PRP) is a form of regenerative medicine that can harness that ability and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal tissue.
For more than 20 years PRP injections have been widely used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including sports injuries and arthritis.
Now Autologous Platelet-Rich Plasma gel is also proving to be highly effective as an advanced wound therapy for chronic and acute wounds. It has been demonstrated that PRP increases wound healing in acute trauma wounds, chronic hard-to-heal sores such as ulcers and burns, incisional wounds, and is effective in soft and hard tissue reconstructions.
How does it work?
PRP gel consists of cytokines, growth factors, chemokines, and a fibrin scaffold derived from platelets in plasma. To make the gel, around 20ml of blood — around one-and-a-half tablespoons — is taken from the patient and spun for a minute in a centrifuge. The spinning separates plasma — a clear serum — from other elements in the blood. Plasma is rich in platelets which are key to initiating wound healing; once activated at the wound site, platelets release chemical signals to activate fibrin-platelet clots and draw white blood cells to the wound site to clear out damaged, dead, or pathogenic cells.
The spun plasma is mixed with other compounds to turn it into a gel, a process that takes around 30 seconds. The gel is then immediately spread over the wound and a dressing put on top.
PRP Gel therapy is beneficial to the treatment and healing process of many skin conditions and wounds – one example is:
Treatment of ulcers
A recent study has shown that problem foot ulcers treated with PRP gel heal far more quickly and completely than those treated traditionally.
Many of the 2.2 million wounds treated by the NHS each year are open wounds or sores that develop on the skin of the foot in patients with diabetes. These ulcers are caused by a combination of factors, including peripheral neuropathy — where chronic exposure to high blood sugar damages nerves, leading to reduced sensation in the feet. This means patients feel little pain and so any injuries go unnoticed and may worsen and become infected before being detected. Diabetes also damages blood vessels, so oxygen-rich blood and immune cells that are required for the skin to mend itself aren’t delivered. Previous research has shown that up to 40 per cent of diabetic ulcers take at least three months to heal, and in 14 per cent of cases, wounds are still present after a year. Every year in the UK, around 5,000 people have a leg or foot amputation as a result.
In a new trial, reported in the journal ‘Advances in Skin and Wound Care’, patients were treated twice a week with PRP gel for the first fortnight and then once weekly afterwards, resulting in faster healing times and regained limb function thereby significantly decreasing the risk of amputation and improving the quality of life for diabetic patients suffering from diabetic ulceration.