Liquid gold: How plasma is being used to heal, rejuvenate

How plasma is being used to heal, rejuvenate

The older we get, the more things don’t look or feel the way they used to.

“I was taking a lot of Ibuprofen, and I thought 'this is not right,'” Deanna Murray, 47, said.

Hair loss is another hot topic among aging men, but also women—particularly after they’ve given birth.

"My hairline has continued to march back,” dermatologist Corinne Erickson said.

Now, more than ever, people are experimenting with something natural – inside their own bodies—to turn back time.

Their own plasma.

Here’s the deal: plasma is part of your blood, full of nutrients. Inside plasma are platelets, packed with proteins called growth factors.

“What we found is that when we harvest those platelets and inject them in areas where there might be tissue damage or injury, even just damage from the sun. The platelets get in there and release all of these growth factors and repair the damaged tissue,” board certified nurse practitioner Terri DeNeui said.

The process works like this: the patient’s blood is drawn and the red blood cells are separated from the plasma, which is then spun down in a centrifuge. The platelet-rich plasma [PRP] is the darker gold liquid containing high concentrations of platelets and growth factors. The PRP is then reinjected into the patient’s body.

“You're not going to all of the sudden magically be healed,” DeNeui, from Evexias Medical Center in Southlake, said. “Most people say they start to see definite improvements after about a week.”

That’s exactly how Olympic weightlifter Holli Jetsel described her experience after trying PRP in both knees. Prior to the procedure, Jetsel said she experienced pain in her knees just walking around.

“It got rid of the walking around pain, it got rid of the get up off the floor pain,” Jetsel recalled.  “I went back to squatting after about day three. I would say [the result] wasn't immediate; I really noticed it over time, but I graduated into that squatting again. Heavy training creates that inflammation in my knees; I'm not going to be able to avoid that.”

Murray had the procedure in both shoulders after surgery because of overuse in the gym.

“I feel like I'm even on both sides in terms of being able to lift the same amount of weight and range of motion,” said Murray, who regularly practices yoga in addition to her weight training regimen.

She notes that she does modify some movements in order to eliminate excess stress to her shoulders.

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why plasma works, but it’s shown to be so promising when it comes to healing and rejuvenating tissue that they are experimenting with this so-called liquid gold in other parts of the body.

Dr. Erickson allowed our cameras to observe her PRP procedure to help re-grow thinning hair.

“It does not work in areas that have completely lost hair,” said Dr. Erickson, with North Dallas Dermatology. “Hair follicles do need to be present for it to work.”

People are using plasma on their face to soften fine lines and wrinkles, and even for sexual health to perform like they once used to in the bedroom.

And would you believe plasma is being studied in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease?

“We have seven grandkids,” Jeff Rushing, 63, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and is part of a clinical trial at Texas Health Dallas, said.

He’s receiving plasma intravenously from young, healthy donors under age 30, to preserve his memory.

“There’s a good chance that plasma could be a part of a larger treatment plan,” Dr. Diana Kerwin, chief of geriatrics at Texas Health Dallas, said. “What they're finding is that [it] seems to have some type of neurologic protective benefits.”

Benefits that don’t reverse Alzheimer’s – but may at least stabilize it.

“If we were to find that there was a benefit [and] that the FDA agreed and would allow us to prescribe it, it's a fairly easy, accessible treatment,” Dr. Kerwin said.

A treatment that could freeze time. What better gift than that?

Few insurance plans provide even partial reimbursement for PRP.

If you're looking for a place to donate your plasma, go here.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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