It has been decades since surgeons began using PRP (platelet-rich plasma) dressings to promote healing following surgical procedures. PRP dressings are applied directly to surgical wounds with the knowledge that they will help said wounds heal faster and more completely. Now it appears that a similar treatment may prove helpful for chronic ulcers.
A review article written by University of Michigan doctors and published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology cited numerous cohort studies designed to determine the efficacy and safety of PRP therapy. Researchers looked at treatment potential for acne scarring, alopecia, and other conditions.
What the Data Shows
One of the studies cited by researchers involved 200 patients suffering from a variety of chronic wounds. Study participants were treated with an autologous PRP gel that was applied topically to their wounds on a once or twice weekly schedule. More than 86% of the treated wounds showed a 47.5% reduction after a little more than two weeks. More than 90% showed in excess of 63% reduction.
Another study focused on treating patients suffering from small venous ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers with topical autologous leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin. In every case, wounds demonstrated complete resolution.
Additional cited studies show that patients suffering from acute traumatic wounds fared better after being treated for three weeks with autologous PRP patches while chronic diabetic ulcer sufferers exhibited faster healing times and better healing quality.
Chronic Ulcers a Big Problem
The University of Michigan researchers cited other studies as well, but the point to focus on here is that all of the results are very promising in the search for better ways to treat chronic ulcers. As you may know, ulcers are open wounds that are very difficult to deal with the longer they persist. The faster an ulcer heals, the better off the patient is.
Also note that some cases of chronic ulcers are worse than others. Chronic ulcers are particularly debilitating for diabetic patients in that they can lead to all sorts of other problems. Coming up with a treatment that encourages those ulcers to heal more quickly would be a big help in improving the lives of patients.
The ability of PRP to address open ulcers rests in the natural functions of blood platelets and their associated growth factors. Think of it in terms of accidentally cutting yourself. Onset of the wound causes blood to seep from the damaged tissue even as platelets coagulate to stop the bleeding and form a scab.
All the while, the growth factors naturally occurring in your blood begin the repair process. In the end, platelets not only stop the bleeding, they also jump-start the healing process.
Other Applications for PRP
We already know that PRP therapy can be effectively utilized to promote wound healing following surgery. Now it appears it might also be useful for treating chronic ulcers. Is there anything else PRP can be applied to? According to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, the answer is yes.
The doctors they train utilize PRP therapy to treat aesthetic issues like alopecia and the effects of aging in the skin. Other doctors offer PRP injections for chronic arthritis as a means of managing pain and encouraging a measure of healing. Doctors specializing in sports medicine utilize PRP injections to treat everything from severe muscle pulls to ligament and tendon injuries.
All across the board, PRP therapy is showing a lot of promise. It is one of the most exciting breakthroughs we have seen in medicine in quite some time.