Who’s a candidate for PRP therapy to treat vulvar lichen sclerosus?
PRP therapy is a suitable treatment option for women with a mild or moderate case of vulvar lichen sclerosus.
How does platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy work?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
is an innovative and promising treatment that represents a major advance in regenerative medicine.
While there’s still limited published research on PRP therapy
, it’s currently used in various areas of medicine:
- In the field of sports medicine, it’s used to treat a variety of injuries.
- In the field of aesthetic medicine, it’s used to erase stretch marks. Specifically, the platelet-rich plasma stimulates production of collagen by fibroblasts.
- In the treatment of alopecia, platelet-rich plasma helps to anchor grafts and stimulate hair follicles when injected in the scalp.
- PRP therapy is also used for skin rejuvenation treatment of the face, breasts and other parts of the body.
Additionally, PRP therapy
is increasingly used in conjunction with various surgeries as a means to accelerate healing time.
The therapy follows a standard procedure. It consists of taking a blood sample from the patient and centrifuging the vial in a Health Canada-approved device that isolates the platelet-rich plasma from the blood. The blood is separated into two sections, with the red cells at the bottom of the vial and plasma at the top. The nurse then isolates the plasma layer, which is replete with platelets that have released growth factors during centrifugation. When injected into the patient, the platelets, growth factors and other chemicals found in high concentration in the platelet-rich plasma allow the body to heal, repair or reject various tissues. Platelet-rich plasma has a powerful ability to regenerate tissue. The colour of the plasma may vary from dark to light yellow depending on the lipid content.
How does platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) help treat vulvar lichen sclerosus?
PRP therapy involves administering a series of superficial injections of tiny drops of platelet-rich plasma into the vulva area. Once it enters the bloodstream, the platelet-rich plasma triggers the release of growth factors. These growth factors naturally stimulate the dermis of the skin. One of the growth factors (among the 20-plus currently known to researchers) found in platelet-rich plasma is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
The injection of platelet-rich plasma appears to stimulate regeneration of blood vessels, nerves and tissues. In addition, it causes vaginal tissues to become more supple, sensitive and elastic.
How is platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) therapy administered when used to treat vulvar lichen sclerosus?
When a local anesthetic is used, the procedure causes little to no discomfort.
First, a nurse applies an anesthetic cream to the vaginal and vulvar areas. Next, blood is drawn from the patient, then centrifuged for five minutes to isolate the platelet-rich plasma. The plasma is then transferred into a syringe. Next, the vulva area is topically anesthetized with ice. Finally, after the injection site has been disinfected, the platelet-rich plasma is injected with a highly precise pneumatic microinjector, used in conjunction with a fine needle.
PRP therapy is 100% natural. No drugs are ever added to the platelet-rich plasma. It’s a safe and reliable dermal treatment that’s been offered since 2003.
What are the potential risks and complications of vulvar PRP injections?
A temporary skin reaction at the site of the injections can sometimes occur. Signs of infection include redness, slight discomfort, edema, swelling and bruising.
How long does PRP therapy to treat vulvar lichen sclerosus last?
Generally, the patient attends four treatment sessions, with two to four intervening weeks between each session.
Each treatment session lasts about 45 to 60 minutes.
How long does it take to notice benefits to skin health?
The patient may begin to see results at three months. However, the primary benefits usually show up six months after the injections. These include improvements in skin quality and skin density.