print hairThere’s been a lot of exciting developments in the hair loss treatment industry over the past decade, but the latest is by far one of the most exciting. Top hair care company L’Oréal, has partnered with Poietis, a leading bioprinting company in France, to produce 3D printed hair follicles. Using living human cells, the printed hair can be transplanted into the scalp, just like it would be in a standard hair transplant. However, unlike a hair transplant, these 3D printed hair follicles can be used on practically all patients – even those who are completely bald. It all sounds a little futuristic, so is printed hair really something we can expect to see anytime soon?

What is 3D printed hair?

There’s actually a few different types of 3D printed hair being developed. An MIT team has been printing out hair-like fibres. These fibres have roughly the same thickness as real human hair, though the team don’t have any plans as of yet to use these fibres as a hair loss solution. The possibility is still there however. Polylactide synthetic hair is also being printed by a group of Carnegie Mellon University researchers. They’re doing so using a shelf-bought 3D printer and it does take quite a while to produce. Throughout the process, they’ve discovered using different filaments can alter the colour of the hair strands produced. However, the above are synthetic fibres, while L’Oréal is working on a real hair solution. The trouble with synthetic hair is that it can really irritate the scalp. As of yet, no company has managed to succeed in printed actual living hair. This could change though thanks to Poietis’ 3D Bioprinting technology. So, it is likely in the future real human hair follicles will be able to be simply printed off and used in hair transplants.

What are your options right now?

3D printed hair is unlikely to be available for use in the hair loss market for quite some time. However, there are a lot of great, effective hair loss solutions available right now. Medications and topical treatments such as Finasteride and Minoxidil, have proven extremely beneficial in the treatment of mild to moderate hair loss. While hair transplants and SMP treatments remain a popular choice for those seeking a long-term solution. Overall, if you are concerned about hair loss, it’s definitely worth seeing a specialist to see what options are open to you. The 3D printed solution is exciting, but it’s also potentially a long way off.

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By Ian Watson

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