Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) has experienced substantial growth in the aesthetic community over the last few years—it's currently being used to rejuvenate the skin in "vampire facials" (it's also commonly used with microneedling, although it's still being investigated by the FDA in regards to its skin-perfecting capabilities), in addition to assisting in hair restoration and wound healing.
Now we're hearing about another type of platelet-rich plasma, called platelet-rich fibrin (PRF), which could be the next generation of the treatment and a valuable tool for plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and even dentists. To find out how it differs from the standard, we turned to the pros.
"Fibrin is a biological scaffold that forms in response to an injury anywhere in the body," says Westborough, MA, facial plastic surgeon Min S. Ahn, MD. "Platelets normally circulate within the blood and will bind to a scaffold of fibrin. When platelets bind to the fibrin scaffold, they become activated and release growth factors from tiny 'granules.' These growth factors start the wound healing process by creating new skin cells, collagen and blood vessels. Scientists have been able to figure out a way to take your blood, spin it in a centrifuge, isolate the contents, and create a platelet- and white blood cell–rich fibrin scaffold ready for use in plastic surgery. The platelet-rich fibrin has been used to fill in facial folds, help fat cells survive better and promote healing after a facelift."
Sounds pretty similar to PRP right? We thought the same thing. However, according to New York facial plastic surgeon Dilip D. Madnani, MD, there's one key difference that could make PRF a more effective treatment in the future (after it's been proven in long-term studies). "PRF appears to target the same issues as PRP, but it releases the growth factors over time, which means it could have longer-term benefits. The growth factors are what stimulate the stem cells that improve collagen and elastin in the skin." Dr. Ahn adds, "The platelets in PRF are thought to survive better than those in PRP, and therefore promote faster healing."
Both doctors agree it could be some time before PRF is "mainstream," but Dr. Madnani says it's been studied in wound healing trials and shown to be safe. "Right now it's primarily being used in the dental area for implants and bone healing, but it's an interesting field and the obvious next step in the evolution of natural rejuvenation."
If you are visiting a doctor who offers the treatment, remember that it's still experimental, so tread lightly. "Make sure your doctor has experience with PRF in facial rejuvenation—do your homework, ask to see pictures and speak to prior patients," says Dr. Madani.