The following is a guest post by cosmetic physician Dr. Csilla S. Novak, M.B.B.S.
Nasolabial folds or grooves (NLFs) run from the nose to the corners of the mouth and are a natural feature of the face. Even kids have them! But with time, as our skin ages and thins, lines start to form in this channel and become etched on the surface. The ‘folds’ also become heavier and more noticeable as the cheek fat pads descend with gravity and tissue laxity. So this natural facial feature becomes a sign of ageing.
Platelet Rich Therapy can improve the cosmetic appearance of these NLFs because PRP is a biological stimulator of collagen production, meaning that it encourages the renewal of one of the components in our skin which start to diminish with time. The skin’s ability to replenish collagen slows down with age and external factors such as sun exposure. PRP therapy uses your own blood components, specifically activated platelets, to kick start the skin to grow collagen again. It can replenish skin thickness and soften the lines in the nasolabial groove. PRP therapy can also result in some volume replacement as dermal fillers do to make the folds shallower.
I usually recommend a minimum of three treatments, spaced 3 weeks apart. Most patients notice an improvement by 6 weeks, and especially at 3 months. How long the improvement lasts for depends on the individual (not all people have the same ability to grow new collagen) and also on how they look after their skin and their general health. Maintenance treatments are usually done every 6 months or yearly.
The treatment process involves arriving early to have numbing cream applied, which takes 45 minutes to take effect. This dulls the pinch of the very fine needles used for injecting PRP and also lessens the sting of the plasma itself. The procedure is well tolerated by most patients.
While waiting for the numbing cream to work, blood is taken from a vein in the forearm, usually 2 tubes of 10mls, more if large areas are to be treated; 4 tubes for full facial treatment. Then the blood is spun in a centrifuge for 5mins to separate the plasma from the red blood cells.
This plasma is a yellow fluid which contains the ‘good stuff’; the platelets. The plasma is mixed with calcium gluconate solution just prior to injecting it into the skin, to activate the platelets and make them release their stimulatory factors. The treated area then becomes red and swollen, and of course bruising usually occurs. There is very little discomfort once the treatment is finished. The swelling may be noticeable, particularly under the eyes, in some patients more than others. Ice packs are applied to settle the swelling faster, as it may last a few days. I also recommend using a cream to dissolve bruises.
The growth of collagen in the skin starts to occur by six weeks and continues for several months, so improvement in the skin texture and softening of the lines becomes visible at 3 months. Repeat treatments are carried out as necessary to achieve the desired effect.