Dr. Garrett here! I recently added a very exciting new treatment to procedures that involve the grafting of bone and/or tissue. It is called platelet-rich plasma (PRP for short) and it is a revolutionary way to improve healing in areas undergoing surgery.
Our blood is composed of many cells that perform numerous functions throughout our body. The cells we’re interested in for helping our bodies to heal from injury are called platelets. Although the main role of platelets is causing our blood to clot, the reason we’re interested in using it for healing is due to its’ role in inflammation. When an injury occurs in our body, blood is rushed to the area to help start the healing process. This rush of blood is what causes the bruising and swelling we often see. The platelets in our blood release inflammatory mediators (called cytokines and growth factors) that aid in the actual healing process. There are a multitude of different growth factors released by platelets, including one’s that aid in the healing of soft tissue and bone. By including PRP in bone grafts and tissue grafts, the surgical site is immediately infused with all the necessary growth factors to help create new tissue and bone. As a result, the inflammation caused by surgery is less. In turn the pain and discomfort is decreased as well…and the bone and soft tissue heals at a faster rate. It’s pretty cool stuff!!
So how do we get this PRP? The day the patient comes in for surgery, blood is drawn and placed into a test tube with an anticoagulant. It is then placed into a centrifuge where the blood is spun around at a high rate to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. What you’re left with is a test tube that has the yellow plasma layer on top and the dark red blood cells at the bottom. In the middle of these two layers sit the platelets. We draw this layer up into a syringe an infuse the bone or tissue with the PRP. It’s that simple! There’s no risk of rejection, because it’s the patient’s own blood. The blood draw only takes about 30-60 seconds and the pain is minimal. I have been using this now for the past few months and the results have been very promising. Patients are reporting less pain, they appear to be healing at a faster rate, and the surgical area appears much less inflamed. Currently the procedures PRP is used in our office include: bone grafts, sinus lifts, soft tissue grafts, some dental implants, and some complex extractions. There is no added cost to have PRP added to your treatment at this time. You just get the benefit of using your own blood to heal faster and with less pain! It’s a new technique that I am very excited about and would be happy to discuss it further if there are any questions that this blog did not satisfy.