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Does Platelet-Rich Plasma Actually Reduce Signs of Photoaging?

It’s not clear if injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a practice derived from the patient’s own blood with a high platelet concentration, can reduce signs of photoaging in the face, according to a study recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

In this first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University wanted to test the efficacy of PRP, which has become an enormously popular facial rejuvenation procedure in recent years. There have been other studies examining the effects of PRP on photoaged skin but most don’t involve controls.

Between 2012 and 2016, the researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial with 27 participants with an average age of approximately 46. The participants received an injection of three milliliters of PRP in one cheek and an injection of saline (placebo) in the other. Six months after one treatment, the participants reported that PRP injection improved wrinkles and texture better than the saline.

However, the masked dermatologists disagreed with the patients’ assessments, and at no point over the course of six months did they find any significant improvement of fine lines, mottled pigmentation, skin roughness, and sallowness subscores. The researchers led by Mrad Alam, MD, vice chair at Feinberg’s Department of Dermatology, explained that the differences could be more challenging for physicians to detect at a subtle level. "Participants may have been able to see differences more clearly because they knew their faces intimately and in great detail and had time to scrutinize their appearance at length and in close-up view (e.g., by using magnification mirrors),” wrote the study authors.

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