Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is exactly what the name suggests. The substance is a concentration of blood platelets. Until recently, its use has been limited to the hospital setting. This was due mainly to the cost of separating the platelets from the blood and the large amount of blood needed to produce a suitable quantity of platelets. New technology permits the doctor to harvest and produce a sufficient quantity of platelets from a relatively small amount of blood drawn from the patient while they are having outpatient surgery.
PRP permits the body to take advantage of the normal healing pathways at a greatly accelerated rate. During the healing process, the body rushes many cells and cell types to the wound in order to initiate the healing process. One of those cell types is platelets. Platelets perform many functions, including formation of a blood clot and release of growth factors (GFs) into the wound. These GFs function to assist the body in repairing itself by stimulating stem cells to regenerate new tissue. The more growth factors released and sequestered into the wound, the more stem cells are stimulated to produce new host tissue. PRP permits the body to heal faster and more efficiently.
Another component GF in PRP is bone morphogenic protein (BMP). BMP has been shown to induce the formation of new bone in research studies in animals and humans. This is of great significance to the surgeon who places dental implants. By adding PRP, and thus BMP, to the implant site with your own bone or bone substitute particles, the implant surgeon can now grow bone more predictably and faster than ever before.
PRP can be used when bone grafting for dental implants including onlay and inlay grafts, sinus bone graft procedures, ridge augmentation procedures, and closure of cleft, lip, and palate defects. It also can be used in the repair of bone defects created during removal of teeth or small cysts. PRP can also be used in the repair of fistulas between the sinus cavity and mouth.
Safety: PRP is a by-product of the patient's own blood. Therefore, disease transmission is not an issue.
Convenience: PRP can be generated in the doctor's office while the patient is undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure, such as placement of dental implants.
Faster healing: Supersaturation of the wound with PRP, and thus growth factors, produces an increase of tissue synthesis and stimulates faster tissue regeneration.
Cost effectiveness: Since PRP preparation is done in the doctor's office, the patient need not incur the expense of the harvesting procedure in a hospital or at the blood bank.
Ease of use: PRP is easy to handle and actually improves the ease of application of bone, bone substitute materials, and bone grafting products by making them more gel-like.
Is PRP safe? Yes. During the outpatient surgical procedure a small amount of your own blood is drawn via an IV. This blood is placed in the PRP centrifuge machine and spun down. In less than 15 minutes, PRP is formed and ready to use.
Should PRP be used in all bone-grafting cases? Not always. In some cases, there is no need for PRP. However, application of PRP to the graft may increase the final amount of bone present in addition to making the wound heal faster and more efficiently.
Will my insurance cover the costs? In most cases, unfortunately not. The cost of the PRP application is paid by the patient.
Can PRP be used alone to stimulate bone formation? No. PRP must be mixed either with the patient's own bone, a bone substitute material such as demineralized freeze-dried bone, or a synthetic bone product.
Are there any contraindications to PRP? Very few. Patients with bleeding disorders or hematologic diseases do not qualify for this in-office procedure. Check with your surgeon and/or primary care physician to determine if PRP is right for you.