Feb 10, 2016 | By Benedict
Transitions Hair Solutions, a New Jersey-based hair prosthesis provider, is providing 3D printed hairpieces for hair loss sufferers. The hairpieces, which can cost between $2,000 and $15,000, have already been made for several cancer survivors.
People can lose their hair for a multitude of different reasons. Many men begin to experience baldness or thinning hair from their twenties onwards, and there are a host of medical circumstances which can cause both men and women to suffer follicular losses of varying severity. One of the most common causes of hair loss amongst both genders is cancer—or, more specifically, the grueling chemotherapy and radiation process that patients undergo to battle the terrifying disease.
Some people are comfortable losing their hair, but for others the process can be psychologically trialling and lead to self-esteem issues. To ease the burden of baldness, many of that latter group choose to purchase wigs, which can help to rebuild confidence and return hair loss sufferers their former personal appearance—or an entirely new one of their choosing. Wigs, however, tend to come off-the-shelf and are not tailored for an individual.
Danielle Grillo of Transitions Hair Solutions wanted to provide a more complete and personal hair replacement service to cancer survivors and to anyone else who has suffered from hair loss. The particular service she helped to develop was a 3D printed hair prosthesis package, which gives customers a semi-permanent hairpiece just like real hair.
"It's considered a scalp and hair prosthetic because it can be used for any kind of hair loss—related to chemotherapy, a scalp disorder, burn, autoimmune disorder, and because it can be made into whatever size is needed," Grillo explained to TODAY. "Maybe you need a full head of hair or only a small area covered on the top of your head.”
The Transitions Hair Solutions process takes a customer’s unique anatomy into account and, if desired, their exact hair specifications, such as color, texture, length, and density. Grillo and co. even take note of the direction in which the hair grows, to reproduce the physical appearance of the hair as closely as possible.
The information is sent to Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories in Italy, who 3D prints the hairpieces before returning them to the New Jersey company. Real human hair is then implanted into the 3D printed scalp, which is adhered to the client’s head with a dermatologically safe adhesive.
"It's a very, very precise, in-depth operation," Grillo said of the $2,000-15,000 procedure which takes about 12 weeks to complete. "It's not for everyone; not everyone can afford it. There are other options that are still good. This is just a step above, and something different.”
Sheri Valle, a resident of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation as part of her treatment. The process caused severe hair loss for the patient. "I wore regular wigs when I had cancer and was totally bald," Valle said. "They're hot, they feel binding. They look fake.”
The failure of the wigs caused Valle great distress: ”As a woman, I finally survive cancer, and now I have to go without hair? I started to lose self-esteem. For a while, I wasn't even going out at all. And I said to myself, listen, I went through all of this, so I'm going to do this for myself so I can feel like a woman again."
Valle was determined to find an alternative solution, and her search led her to Transitions Hair Solutions, whose tailor-made alternative seemed to offer an answer to the survivor’s troubles—even if the price of the procedure caused Valle some head-scratching: “I finally just said to myself, ‘Listen, you survived cancer. Just invest in it. It’s going to make you happy.’ I feel more like a woman. I feel like myself again.”
According to Grillo, it’s cases like Valle’s which keep her plugging away at the job. “To watch clients come in and be a little bit hunched over, and then watch them leave and see them bloom like a flower, that’s what I love about it,” Grillo told BuzzFeed. “I love seeing what it does for people.”
Once clients have received their prosthesis, they revisit the salon every four to six weeks for a cleaning treatment. But in all other respects, these customers can treat their new hair as if it were their own.
"Once it's attached, they can literally do anything someone with a full head of hair can do," Grillo said. "Seriously, go ride a jet ski! But a lot of people just tell me it's so amazing they can shower in it. It's just one less thing to worry about.”
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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