Blood transfusion has been in existence for a considerable period of time and is not a recent development where plasma, which is a component of blood, serves as a medium for eliminating waste from the body and transporting nutrients to various cells but in the realm of skincare and hair care, plasma is utilised in a treatment known as platelet rich plasma (PRB). This involves extracting plasma from the patient’s blood and subjecting it to a centrifuge to separate its different components and the resulting solution, which is abundant in platelets, is then reinjected into the patient.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rashmi Shetty, Cosmetic Dermatologist at Ra Skin and Aesthetics in Mumbai and Hyderabad, explained, “Upon injection, the growth factors present in the plasma assist in tissue regeneration at the site of injection. This technique is also employed in orthopedics for joint treatments and similar purposes. On the topic of multi-generational plasma exchange, it is a complex scientific process that necessitates extensive study and research.”
She elaborated, “It is not widely popular and is only offered by selective medical facilities. This treatment can only be administered by experienced professionals due to its complexity and involvement of multiple variables. Therefore, in the field of medicine, and when considering its impact on the body, it is crucial to comprehend the underlying science rather than simply follow trends.”
The new trend of Plasma exchange
Therapeutic Plasma exchange, also known as plasmapheresis was first employed in the year 1952. Dr Manoj Kutteri, Medical Director and CEO of Atmantan Wellness Centre, revealed, “In this medical procedure, blood is withdrawn from the body and separated into plasma and cells. The procedure is primarily done to remove the liquid portion of the blood, called plasma containing various antibodies, toxins, cytokines, adhesion molecules, complement proteins, and other unwanted molecules, and then replace this with another liquid such as a mixture of electrolytes and albumin or purified protein compounds. The modified blood is then transferred to the patient’s body. Plasma exchange has a lot of medical benefits in treating various auto-immune conditions. This procedure is also done in treating overdoses of certain medications. In the case of organ transplantation, complications can arise due to antibody-mediated rejection by the body. In such cases also this procedure is quite useful.”
How safe is it?
Dr Manoj Kutteri answered, “Plasma exchange is generally a safe procedure if done under the guidance of an experienced Doctor. However, there can be various complications that can arise in this procedure. During the removal of plasma, there can be a loss of calcium and magnesium resulting in hypocalcemia or hypomagnesemia. Hence, these complications have to be handled carefully during the procedure. Also, since there is an exchange of large volumes of fluid, this can lead to an imbalance in our blood pressure causing breathing trouble, cold hands and feet, giddiness, nausea, shivering, etc.”
He cautioned, “Allergic reactions are also very common side effects along with bleeding tendencies. There is also a higher risk of catching an infection in this process if safety precautions are inadequate. However, if carried out well it is an excellent procedure for treating skin problems, scars, acne, and pigmentations, as a hair growth treatment, treating various autoimmune conditions such as myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, polyneuropathy, for stimulating the production of collagen (anti-aging therapy), etc.”
Things to be kept in mind while going for it
Dr Manoj Kutteri highlighted, “Plasma exchange is a treatment that may not give you instant relief. Based on your conditions, your doctor will advise the number of sessions that are required for you. The result may be shown a few days after the treatment and there can be minor side effects that last for a few months too. Plasmapheresis therapy usually gives severe pain at the site for one or two days and one needs to anticipate this.”
Its ill effects
Dr Manoj Kutteri emphasised, “It is a medical procedure that has potential risks and complications similar to any advanced procedure. Common complications are risk of infection, allergic reaction, lowering of blood pressure due to large volume transfers, imbalance in the electrolytes and other minerals, and other complications arising from the invasive procedure. Since the immune complexes and antibodies are removed, this can also result in an increased risk of infections. Plasma exchange can also cause the risk of bleeding and in rare situations formation of blood clots inside the machine.”