As eye-catching stories go, the BBC’s recent article about hair care and cosmetics company L’Oréal working with another French firm to try and tackle hair loss takes some beating. In a nutshell, beauty giants L’Oreal want to try and use a laser to 3D print living hair follicles.
3D printing’s application in the world of science and medicine seems to know no limits. The technique has already been used to create pills, prosthetic parts, heart valves and even, in one case, the top portion of a 22-year-old woman’s skull.
But things get even more interesting when we enter the realm of bio-3D printing. Researchers are already working on 3D-printed liver cells, and the French team that L’Oréal have teamed up with – Poietis – can print skin.
Three years at least
According to the BBC, who picked up on the L’Oréal/Poietis story, the two firms think it will be at least three years before they have any success with the hair follicle printing, for which they will adapt existing techniques that Poietis already employs. These are based around a special kind of printer which bounces a laser off a mirror which then hits a ribbon containing “bio ink”. A droplet falls onto the building area with cells created a layer at a time.
It is not the first time that 3D printing has been mentioned in terms of hair loss, though most ideas in development are centred around some kind of tailor-made hair piece.
People troubled by thinning hair can currently be treated by a hair loss specialist using medically-proven products. In cases of Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss – two conditions in which hair shedding is genetically pre-programmed – these products can encourage new hairs to grow, as well as staving off the thinning process.
A bespoke treatment course can also help in certain cases of Alopecia Areata, the autoimmune disorder which leads to sudden, rounded bald patches, as well as Traction Alopecia, all-over thinning from Telogen Effluvium and other hair loss conditions.
Where this new technology comes into its own is in potentially treating people who have lost their hair to scarring or cicatricial alopecia, for which there is currently no treatment.
Hairs taken from other parts of the head
When hair loss becomes especially pronounced, some people seek out advice from a hair restoration surgeon. When appropriate, he can take hairs from parts of the head where it is more abundant and insert them where they are needed. The L’Oréal technique would likely find a market among such patients, as it would eradicate the need for them to surrender donor hair. It may also be appropriate for more severe forms of baldness where donor hair is not available.
Holding out for L’Oréal’s sci-fi solution may not be your best option, however. Prices are likely to be sky high in the short term at least, as each hair will require time and effort to print. It will also then need to be taken to a specialist who can implant the hairs. Given that a fee of £5,000 or more is not uncommon for a traditional hair transplant, it is hard to see how L’Oréal’s version could work out any cheaper.
It is also worth remembering that experts recommend that hair loss be treated sooner rather than later, as genetic conditions in particular are progressive, and hair loss will increase with time. The approach Belgravia takes – using clinically-proven medications combined with hair growth boosters to form a comprehensive treatment programme – is already available and can produce significant results. A selection of our clients’ regrowth results after being treated for a variety of hair loss conditions can be seen in our Success Stories gallery. Browsing these entries provides an idea of the types of results our clientele have achieved, the time it took for them to see these levels of regrowth, and you can also read their feedback which accompanies each set of images of their scalps before and after starting their bespoke treatment plans.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.