Platelet-rich plasma has many characteristics that make it very attractive for use in plastic surgery: it’s easy and inexpensively produced using the patient’s own cells, with little or no risk of adverse effects. However, particularly for cosmetic procedures, treatments can be time consuming and may require multiple sessions.

Platelets are blood cells that play a critical role in blood clotting. When tissue damage occurs, platelets rush to the area, initiating a cascade of events to stop bleeding and start the wound-healing process. Platelets have been shown to release over 30 growth factors and other biologically active proteins, with effects including new blood vessel formation and tissue growth.

This “cocktail” of natural growth factors likely explains the wide range of therapeutic benefits reported with PRP. Platelet-rich plasma is prepared by various methods of centrifugation, spinning a small sample of the patient’s blood into separate components. The red blood cells are removed, leaving the liquid component of blood (plasma) with a high concentration of platelets, sometimes with leukocytes (white blood cells).

Initially used for treatment of skin conditions and to promote bone grafting, PRP has found a growing number of uses in several surgical specialties – including plastic surgery. In the US alone, plastic surgeons performed more than 130,000 cosmetic minimally invasive procedures in 2019.