What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

What is Platelet-Rich Plasma?

Blood consists of various cells and proteins that float through blood vessels in a liquid called plasma. To get platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a vial of your own blood is taken, spun down in a centrifuge, and separated into layers of all the different cells that compose it. Centrifugation pushes a specific type of cell, the platelet, into the plasma layer. The platelets are the cells responsible for clotting and contain hundreds of growth factors that aid healing.

After these platelets concentrate in the plasma layer, that platelet-rich plasma can then be isolated and injected into damaged areas all over the body.

Platelet-rich plasma

What Is a PRP Injection?

What Is a PRP Injection?

A doctor can inject PRP into damaged tissue to stimulate healing. Platelets are known for their clotting ability, but they also contain many growth factors (proteins) that can signal the body to increase the number of reparative cells in a treated area. PRP injections are used to treat a range of musculoskeletal issues, including common chronic athletic conditions like tennis elbow or runner’s knee. They can also be used to aid in healing after surgery or to treat arthritis-related pain.

Types of PRP Injection


Different types of PRP injections are used to treat various injuries and conditions. There are four classifications of PRP, differentiated by their leukocyte (white blood cell) content and fibrin architecture:

  • Pure PRP - In this PRP, white blood cells have been completely removed, and the substance has a low fibrin matrix
  • Leukocyte and PRP (L-PRP) maintain their white blood cell count but have a low fibrin matrix
  • Leukocyte and platelet-rich fibrin (L-PRF) have no white blood cells but a high fibrin matrix. Experts suggest this type of PRP may be the best option for knee osteoarthritis.
  • Pure platelet-rich fibrin (P-PRF) maintains both white blood cell count and has a high fibrin matrix

How Is a PRP Injection Performed?


After drawing your blood to extract PRP, your doctor will numb the area set to be treated. They will then inject the PRP into your tissue with a needle. Doctors will sometimes use ultrasound imaging to guide their injections to increase accuracy and decrease potential pain. Using imaging guidance is very helpful in pinpointing exactly where the damaged tissue needs PRP the most. The PRP treatment will likely take around 30 minutes, depending on which area is being treated.

Risks To Consider


A PRP injection does not usually cause significant side effects since the materials are taken from you, processed, and put back into you without manipulation by outside substances. The risk of an allergic reaction is extremely low because the substance is made up of a patient’s own cells. However, every preparation of PRP is different, and this uncertainty can limit how accurately a doctor can predict its effectiveness. A PRP injection does carry the risk of some side effects, which include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Nerve or tissue damage

Preparing For a PRP Injection

Preparing for Injection

Before getting a PRP injection, your doctor will give you instructions for preparation. You will likely be asked to stop taking certain medications that thin your blood (including ibuprofen and aspirin) and some supplements like omega-3 fatty acids. Since the treatment involves drawing blood, you should eat before the procedure to avoid becoming lightheaded.

What To Expect After a PRP Injection

After Injection

After the platelet-rich plasma treatment, the injection site will likely be sore and feel bruised. Your doctor will advise you not to wash the area for 48 hours following treatment. There will likely be increased pain at the injection site for up to 48 hours while the anticipated inflammatory reaction is happening. This pain is normal, and while there will be continued discomfort, that will subside over the following several days. To manage discomfort, you can ice the area or take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen. If you experience excessive sharp pains or severe bruising/bleeding, be sure to call your physician.



PRP injections are not permanent, and the length of their effectiveness can vary. Some PRP treatments last up to two years, while others may decrease in effectiveness after about nine months. Every person is different, every injury is different, and there are different PRP preparations that all factor into the effectiveness of a PRP injection; discussing expectations with your doctor before the injection is important.

You should avoid drinking alcohol following a PRP injection because it can decrease platelet function and delay the effectiveness of the treatment.

PRP injection can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500, depending on your doctor and location. Your reasons for undergoing a PRP injection may also determine whether or not it’s covered by insurance.

Your doctor will likely recommend that you limit the use of the treatment area for two days after your PRP injection. The amount of rest needed depends on the patient and the injection site.
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Receive a PRP Injection At NewYork-Presbyterian

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our experts have a thorough understanding of the complexities of PRP injections and the conditions they can help treat. Our physicians can advise you on whether PRP injections are right for you, and how to navigate any side effects you may experience with an injection.