169001

Preparing for Hair Loss During Cancer Treatment


WRITTEN BY: Magee
Sunday, April 9th, 2017

As you battle breast cancer, you expect many changes to your body, including changes to your hair.

Your hair may thin or all fall out during chemotherapy treatment. Hair loss during chemo can add another layer of emotional distress to the treatment process. But you can take steps to manage the hair loss and prepare yourself for changes in how you look.

Find the support you need. Visit the website for UPMC CancerCenter at Magee-Womens Hospital.

Understand Your Options

When you’re facing hair loss or thinning hair, you can try to save your hair or look for head coverings. Although losing your hair can be devastating at first, you can have fun with fashionable scarves or hats or at a wig fitting.

RELATED: 5 Guidelines for Talking to Your Kids About Cancer

Cold caps for hair loss

Cold caps are helmet-like devices kept at extremely cold temperatures that you strap on your head before, during, and after treatment. The goal of these and other scalp cooling systems is to restrict the blood vessels in your scalp to keep as much chemotherapy medicine as possible out of the hair follicles.

BreastCancer.org reports that 50 to 65 percent of women who use these systems see much less hair loss than those who do not use cooling systems.

Wigs for cancer hair loss

Synthetic wigs have come a long way in both comfort and natural appearance. They’re easier to maintain and cheaper than wigs made of human hair. One key to buying a wig is to make sure that what you choose makes you feel good. Even if your friends agree the look is fantastic, make sure you’re comfortable with your new look.

Scarves and hats

Head scarves and hats are also beautiful options with a lot of versatility. Scarves can be tied to create different styles, and hats can match a range of outfits.

How to Get Started

Check your insurance

Cold caps are relatively new on the market in the United States and can be expensive. Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover any of the cost. You can also check with your cancer center to see if it has ones you can rent.

Also, check your insurance benefits for wigs. Many insurance providers will cover all or part of the cost of a wig. The American Cancer Society and other organizations may also provide financial assistance for wigs.

Prepare yourself and your family for hair loss

It often helps to cut your hair short before beginning treatment. This way you have less trauma in seeing long hair fall out.

If choosing a wig, wait until you feel truly ready to wear one before you shop. Forcing yourself into it will likely lead you to choose something you don’t like. Take supportive friends and family with you to a professional wig fitting and make a day of it.

If you have young children at home, talk to them about how your hair will change. Take them shopping for a wig or scarves with you if they would enjoy that.

Facing hair loss during chemotherapy for breast cancer is difficult. But you have options to try to maintain your hair and fashionable ways to cover your head. Whatever you choose is up to you and what makes you feel best during treatment. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who help you through the difficult days and go shopping with you when you’re ready.

pregnancy magee

Magee

For more than a century, women have depended on the expertise and compassion of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC for the delivery and care of their babies. With a family-centered environment for labor, delivery, and recovery; innovative laboring options; world-renowned obstetricians; and one of the largest NICUs in the nation, why would you choose to go anywhere else? For more information about Magee’s childbirth services, visit UPMC.com/Magee, or call 1-866-MyMagee. Read More