What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy?

Platelet-rich plasma therapy—a treatment for aiding the regeneration of ligament and tendon injuries—is helping to shorten rehabilitation time and often eliminates the need for surgery. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is part of a relatively new field of medicine known as orthobiologics that includes the use of stem cells and emphasizes employing the latest technologies along with the body's natural ability to heal itself. "One of our major goals is to make healing time faster for patients with soft tissue injuries," says Christopher S. Ahmad, MD, Director, Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. "For example, a patient undergoing elbow ligament reconstructive surgery, commonly referred to as Tommy John surgery, may take a year to recover. That's a long time. Recovery time for anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] surgery is approximately six months. So while we are very good at performing surgery to correct these injuries, we're now accelerating the healing by biologic manipulation. That's where platelet-rich plasma comes in."

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment is based on the theory that the bloodstream has healing chemicals in the platelet-rich section of the blood. So, if you think about it, if you cut your skin, you bleed, and that blood has chemicals which tell the skin to mend. If you break a bone, the bone bleeds, and the blood has chemicals which tells the bone to mend.

In PRP, healthcare professionals take the blood from your arm (just like in a traditional blood test), but instead of spinning it 30 times a minute, they spin it much faster to concentrate those platelets in a concentration 500 times greater. They then inject that platelet-rich plasma into damaged tissue, which can help it to heal when your own body couldn’t do it.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Dr. Anthony S. Youn, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy utilizes blood platelets in plasma, which contain growth factors, for healing and rejuvenation. In this video, plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD, explains how PRP therapy works, and what it's being used to treat.

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