What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?

What is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)?

This article has been revised to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information.

*original publication date: December 1, 2019. Revised September 01, 2023

How Platelet-Rich Plasma is Obtained from the Body

In order to acquire Platelet-Rich Plasma from an individual, a vial of blood must be drawn. The amount drawn is often around 60cc. A sample of this size will generally yield 7cc of PRP. This yield varies based on the number of platelets the person has in their blood, what device is used to obtain the sample, and the techniques utilized.

To prevent the platelets in the drawn blood from activating and beginning the process of coagulation, an anticoagulant is added to the vial after the blood is removed from your vein. This helps to preserve the sample so that it can be used more effectively when the time comes inject the PRP into your injury site.

After the blood has been drawn the PRP is separated with a centrifuge. Initially, the entire tube is placed in the centrifuge. After a cycle, the tube will have separated into distinct layers: the red blood cells and the white blood cells.

Large cells like red and white blood cells settle at the bottom of the tube. The top of the tube consists of the yellow-colored plasma, which is the watery part of our blood. Between these two layers is where the platelets are concentrated by the centrifuge. 

Although there are many different technologies to do so, the goal is to isolate the platelet layer, which is concentrated to 5-8 times the typical concentration of platelets that are circulating in our bloodstream. 

Using PRP in Regenerative Medicine Therapies

There are many growth factors associated with the platelets that promote healing and facilitate cellular regeneration, including platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor beta-1, vascular endothelial growth factor, basic fibroblastic growth factor, epidermal growth factor, and others. 

All of these growth factors play a role in tissue healing and regeneration, especially in the early stages of these processes. They help to create new tissues, such as cartilage, collagen, and fibers, and stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in these tissues to further improve healing.

A further benefit of these molecules is the reduction of inflammation. When a tissue is injured and starts to heal, a large amount of blood flows to the area to move nutrients and various chemicals to the site to stimulate the healing process. However, this influx of components results in swelling and inflammation, which can then cause an increased risk of scar tissue formation.

Scar tissue forms in place of the original tissue, resulting in altered tissue functionality. PRP can help to reduce excess inflammation, decrease scar tissue formation and encourage healthier body tissues.

Because of these benefits, platelet-rich plasma is becoming an increasingly popular treatment option for a number of different injuries. Since PRP can help rebuild new tissues that have been worn down, it is often used to treat cartilage injuries. These can be a result of sports injuries, such as spine or knee damage, or just from overuse, like with osteoarthritis.

With some problems, like labrum tears or meniscus damage, the fibrocartilage in these locations simply wears down or is traumatized by injury. The cartilage in these areas doesn’t heal well because it has very limited blood flow, but PRP injections can stimulate the healing process, recreate the damaged tissue, and restore joint function.

In the case of osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage on the ends of the bones is worn down, reducing joint mobility and causing pain. PRP can help rebuild this cartilage and address the root of the pain instead of simply treating the symptoms like most treatment options.

Platelet-rich plasma is also commonly used to treat rotator cuff injuries, tendon damage, or plantar fasciitis. Similar to cartilage injuries, PRP is able to stimulate the growth of new tissues to replace those that are damaged. Their ability to reduce swelling and scar tissue buildup also improves the healing process and leaves the body with more functionality and stronger muscles, tendons, and other tissues.




I’m Boris Terebuh MD, Ohio’s first and most experienced Discseel® provider. I am also the Founder & Medical Director of the Regenerative Spine & Joint Center