Super Bowl Sports Medicine and Anti-Aging: Controversial Treatment Could Help Turn Back the Clock

Jager Weatherby on 30 Jan 2015 at 8:45pm


Besides football, what do Peyton Manning, Hines Ward, Chris Johnson, and Tony Polamalu have in common? These NFL players (and hundreds of others) have all been treated with a thing called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to accelerate healing after an injury and avoid surgery. PRP has been used since the mid-90s, largely during dental and other oral procedures, but it’s recently gained a lot of ground in world of sports medicine… and cosmetic procedures.

The good news is that we don’t need to make millions of dollars to take advantage of this treatment of the sports stars. Not only is PRP being employed to heal tears and inflammation in the tissue, but Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Nassif says it could be the next big thing in anti-aging. We caught up with him to get the scoop:

RealSelf: First things first, what’s PRP in layman's terms? Is it safe? What are the risks?
Dr. Nassif:
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is part of our blood; it’s a concentration of platelets within the plasma. To obtain PRP, your own blood is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge. The blood is then put into a tube with what’s called a reagent. The reagent helps separate the plasma from the red blood cells. We extract the plasma and inject it into the skin. PRP is safe and essentially has no risk of rejection. Any risks (although rare) are limited to those associated with injections, such as infection and pain around the injection site.

RealSelf: PRP is used in sports medicine to accelerate healing, but is it a viable option for anti-aging and rejuvenation?
Dr. Nassif:
Treatment with PRP is a fantastic therapy that works by stimulating a healing cascade in areas of damaged tissue. The platelets within the PRP release essential growth factors that assist with repair. As a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, I like to use PRP to stimulate cellular regeneration. I use PRP both intra-operatively and for non-surgical facial rejuvenation treatments.

RELATED: Hot in Hollywood: Dr. Paul Nassif Explains the “Vampire Facelift”

RealSelf: Do you think it’s the next big thing in anti-aging?
Dr. Nassif:
PRP has become very appealing for those who are looking for a non-surgical treatment that’s quicker, less expensive, and yields great results with minimal downtime. Although the results of this treatment may not be as drastic as with surgery, it can be fantastic for the right candidate. As the treatment continues to evolve, it will be only become more desirable as a quick and effective anti-aging procedure.

RealSelf: What are the different ways PRP is currently being used in regards to anti-aging and rejuvenation?
Dr. Nassif:
We frequently use a combination of PRP injected with filler to naturally add volume to the face. This results in a younger appearance and overall enhanced look. Another common in-office treatment we perform that yields a fantastic result is micro-needling with PRP. Micro-needling leads to a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, tightening of the skin, and a decrease in the size of the pores. PRP can also be used to rejuvenate the hands. Multiple treatments with PRP injected into the hands leads to the best outcome, and leaves the hands appearing many years younger.

RELATED: Interest in Micro-Needling Grew 228% in 2014: Is the Wrinkle Reducer Worth It?

RealSelf: Is PRP better than fillers, surgery, and implants?
Dr. Nassif:
PRP is not necessarily better than fillers, surgery, and implants. It works entirely different. For example, if you have sagging skin on your face, PRP and fillers can be used in combination with a facelift to yield the best outcome. PRP alone would not benefit you under these circumstances. It’s primarily used to spark collagen production and improve the appearance of your skin, not to lift skin that’s already sagging around the jowls.

RealSelf: Any final thoughts? What do consumers need to know about the use of PRP for cosmetic reasons?
Dr. Nassif:
Overall, PRP is a great rejuvenating treatment. When seeking cosmetic treatments, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:
  1. Do your homework. Choose a board certified physician to perform your procedure(s). A facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist is a fantastic choice.
  2. Look for before-and-after photos that showcase the physician’s work. This helps to give you an idea of what to expect following the procedure.
  3. Choose a physician who has an informative website and lots of experience with the procedure you desire. A meticulous technique can greatly enhance the outcome.

Want to know if you selected the best doctor for you? Ask yourself these 10 questions before choosing a plastic surgeon. 

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Al Case