Alopecia patient from Co Antrim praises her self-confidence boost after undergoing revolutionary new hair loss treatment

Alopecia patient from Co Antrim praises her self-confidence boost after undergoing revolutionary new hair loss treatment

A Co Antrim woman who has suffered from alopecia for over 25 years wants to raise awareness about hair loss.

Sabel Kirk, who lives in Ballygowan, says she is “delighted and privileged” to speak about alopecia to people living in Northern Ireland.

“My hair loss started in 1993,” he explains. “I have worn hats, scarves, bandanas, wigs and gone without head coverings, none of which made me happy. I have tried lotions, shampoos, head massages, acupuncture, and thinking Chinese herbs.”

Isabel’s hairdresser initially told her that she had two small patches on the back of her head and urged her to make a doctor’s appointment.

“I made an appointment, went to the doctor and he said it’s a touch of alopecia, nothing to worry about and your hair will grow back.”

She describes her experiences with alopecia as “on and off.”

“Sometimes I would maybe get a one-year stint with reasonable hair. The day I got married, 13 years ago, I had a full head of hair,” she says.

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Isabel Kirk who suffers from alopecia is delighted with the results of her procedure at La Bella Vita Salon

“And then, as I would call it… the hair fell asleep. It was like my hair follicles went to sleep and didn’t wake up again. That could take another two years before he started to come back. It was a back and forth.”

Due to the prevailing stigma around the subject, hair loss is often seen as bad hair, with 69% of women in a survey by hair wellness company Vegamour feeling they are judged for suffering from it, and the 56% saying it is still taboo to wear wigs

This is despite the fact that millions of women suffer from hair loss in the UK.

In 2008, wanting to find a solution, Isabel googled “hair extensions Belfast” and came up with La Bella Vita salon on Belfast’s Newtownards Road.

“To my surprise and delight, they had a section dedicated to hair loss,” says Isabel (66).

“An appointment was made with Sarah (Gallagher, who owns the salon) for the next day. The consultation was very positive and for the first time someone was going to be able to help me, Sarah had the solution.”

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The CNC Hair Prosthesis System has restored Isabel’s confidence

That solution is the CNC Hair Prosthesis System, a combination of 3D printing technology, custom medical-grade prosthetics, handcrafted materials, and the highest quality human hair. Unlike a wig, prosthetics accurately reflect the client’s scalp, hairline, and growth direction.

“Sarah outfitted me with the hair integration system that I could use 24/7 as well as wash and style like it was my own. I continue cycling, hiking and climbing mountains without having to worry about my hair”, explains Isabel.

“They make you a net in the shape of your head. They pull your own hair through the holes. It is then attached with clips, so your own hair will hold it, then additional hair is sewn on. It wasn’t painful and I was happy to do it.”

The prosthesis doubles as a hair restoration solution, containing cutting-edge nanotechnologies and ingredients customized to clients’ hair needs, preventing further hair loss and accelerating healthy hair growth.

Isabel says she felt an immediate difference after trying the system for the first time.

“Having faith in Sarah in the room was the main thing. I had to have confidence because I was putting all my trust in her to do something for me, to choose the color, to choose the style, everything. And that was the main thing.

“I walked out of that room with my head held high and the biggest smile on my face.

“And I’ve never, ever, ever looked back and it doesn’t feel like it’s not my hair, it’s my hair.”

Although everyone’s hair is different, the clips in Isabel’s hair are tightened every six weeks and the system is removed twice a year before being replaced.

“Living with alopecia is not a lifestyle choice,” she says.

“There is a big difference between choosing to live without hair and not having hair. Finding a hair loss solution at La Bella Vita was a real gift. It is the best investment in me that I have ever known. My confidence was restored.”

“It hits you for six because I had a full head of healthy hair,” he says of the diagnosis.

“As long as you’re in and around your own friends and family, there’s no problem with that because that’s what they see, the person you are, it makes no difference. When you go to other places, it becomes more invasive. It’s more of a problem for other people than it is for me.”

Isabel is “very open” about her hair loss and hopes her candor will help others.

“Once you realize how many people are affected by some kind of hair loss, not just alopecia, but people who lose parts of their hair due to chemotherapy or a spot somewhere that doesn’t grow,” she says. “You have male pattern baldness where your hair thins on top, that can be taken care of. There is a solution for those who want to go and take a look and explore the possibility.

“I have no problem talking about it. It’s no different than having to wear a pair of glasses or use a cane. If it’s something that improves your quality of life, which you obviously have. I was never an unhappy person but like everything, I prefer not to have it.

Sarah Gallagher adds: “We are delighted that Isabel had such a fantastic experience with us and we could see how delighted she was and what a difference it made in her confidence and in her life. Treating a client’s hair solution, like Isabel’s, is as much an art as it is a science.

“We need to know how to identify different types of hair, how to match colors and textures, and how to care for hair to keep it looking its best. On the other hand, we also need to be able to see beyond the conventional uses of hair. We need to be able to imagine new styles and techniques and have the ability to bring those visions to life.”

■ For information on La Bella Vita salon, visit www.labellavitahairandbeauty.co.uk

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