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Dealing with Hair Loss After Chemotherapy


When your body undergoes cancer treatment you not only endure a tremendous shock physically, but also on a mental and psychological level. In addition, treatment brings with it numerous physical changes to your body. Several of the chemotherapy drugs used during cancer treatment cause hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking the actively dividing cancer cells, but they also attack other actively growing cells in the body, like those in your hair follicles. These drugs cause hair thinking, hair fall out or even complete baldness depending on the type of drug used, the dosage and the duration of use, etc. Fortunately, once the chemo sessions are finished, hair starts to grow back within a few months. However, with radiotherapy, there’s a chance that hair loss may be permanent or patchy. On top of the tremendous stress of battling cancer, losing your hair can be a confounding strain as hair is so strongly associated with one’s self-image and beauty. Strong support from family and friends can help ease this phase, however there are also certain options available for cancer survivors.

Some people opt for wigs during the course of cancer treatment, some shave their head or go bald as a symbol of their fight against cancer. Here are a few more possibilities:

Scalp Ice Caps: These are caps that are lined with a gel that is usually refrigerated and chilled. This is applied to the scalp 40-50 minutes before chemotherapy begins so that blood flow to the scalp is sluggish and chemo drugs do not actively flow there. This in turn, prevent hair from falling out. This procedure is not available in all hospitals so you’ll want to check with your doctor ahead of time.

Hair Replacement: A type of high-end toupee, it has a mesh base that is designed after taking the dimensions of the head and it’s color coordinated to the skin tone. Human hair is then tied to the mesh with special knots in a way that makes it appear like hair is growing out of the mesh base. The base is then fitted to the head.

Hair Transplantation: If there are patchy areas of hair loss after finishing cancer treatment or if the thinning hair seems permanent, hair transplant may be the solution. There are 2 types of transplants available; 1) FUT where a strip of scalp is removed from the back of the head and the hair grafts are dissected out and implanted or 2) FUE where individual grafts are removed with the help of a monitor and then implanted.

Minoxidil: Though it may not help during the process of chemo, it will help hair grow back much quicker after finishing treatment. Minoxidil is a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to stimulate hair follicles and can be used for both men and women. This solution general works best on the crown area compared to the frontal region. However, caution needs to be taken when applied because it can cause unwanted hair growth to the face or neck if applied there. You may have to continue use for a long period as stopping the application has often been linked to increased hair loss.

Finasteride: Taken in pill form, this promotes hair growth by blocking the action of natural hormones in scalp hair and reducing hair loss. At the moment this drug is only approved for use by men with androgenic hair loss and by post-menopausal women.

Hair Care: The methods above can help with hair loss but gentle hair care can also contribute to better growth. Using mild shampoo, brushing less vigorously and avoiding chemical treatments like perming, straightening and coloring all play a role. Try to minimize use of heat styling and keep hair short so that it looks fuller.

Looking for options to manage hair loss? Call us today at (800) 966-9505 for a free consultation.

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Can Sun Damage Hair?

The answer is YES! It can! 

Hair is a fascinating thing. It's simple in structure, but it's made of a tough protein called keratin. Your hair shaft includes the inner cortex, as well as the protective outer layer called the cuticle. The cuticle has many overlapping cells that look like roof shingles. Your hair is best when the cuticle lies flat and a smooth cuticle reflects light and is soft to the touch.

Unfortunately, daily hair styling - flat irons, excessive blow drying, even vigorous brushing - can make the shingles stand up and weaken your hair. An open cuticle exposed to sunlight means UV rays are able to penetrate the cortex, which dulls and dehydrates your hair. And if you color your hair, bleaches and dyes have already compromised your cuticle so the dulling and dehydration is even more intense. 

And although your hair itself cannot get cancer or a sunburn, the sun can damage your hair - especially during the long hot summer months. Excess sun can cause weak, stressed dry and brittle hair and can make your hair more susceptible to split ends. If you color your hair, the sun can change the pigmentation of your hair as well. 

The best thing to do to protect your hair from the sun is to get regular trims to cut off the split ends and dry brittle hair. To protect the rest of your hair from the sun, use a fortifying leave in conditioner to that contains UV protection. 

To further enhance your hair's health during the summer, choose ultra-hydrating styling products that also contain SPF and UV protection. To remove any build-up, use once a week a clarifying shampoo. Regular hot oil treatments, hair masks or overnight balms are also great for deep conditioning in between treatments. 

Looking for options to manage hair loss or sun damage? Call us today at (800) 966-9505 for a free consultation!

 

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Helping Loved Ones Cope with Hair Loss

Hair loss is no laughing matter. It can be a harsh blow to your self-esteem, and although the experience is different from person-to-person, the impact ranges from mild annoyance to traumatic. If someone you love is suffering from hair loss, you could be a vital part of their support system! Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to helping someone cope with this difficult situation...

What to Avoid
You may very well be upset with someone who has hair loss at some point in your life, and your instinct may be to use this against them in a moment of anger. However, using it to insult someone is definitely hitting below the belt. It also sends the message that there is something “wrong” or “embarrassing” about hair loss, which will stick with a person far into the future – well after your moment of anger.

While someone may make fun of their own hair loss, we don’t recommend emulating this self-deprecating humor! Humor is a well-known coping mechanism, and laughter is absolutely a very effective medicine. We recommend that you simply tread carefully when it comes to teasing, since it’s one thing to laugh at yourself versus having someone laugh at you.

What to Do
No doubt that you’ve heard someone with hair loss complaining about it. The best thing that you can do is to emphasize that outward appearance doesn’t define self worth, and focus on the positives. Sometimes the perfect fix to a self-esteem spiral is to hear how much you love and value them unconditionally.

That said, try not to discount or invalidate the negative emotions that your loved one is struggling with over their hair loss. They’re still going through a very real difficulty, and sometimes it can just help to hear, “Yeah, that does sick.”

Ultimately, it’s up to the individual what they want to do or not do about their hair loss. Some seek out treatment, others don’t. Whatever the decision, it’s important to be supportive – whether that means being a sounding board for ideas and options or accepting a final decision made by the hair loss sufferer. If you’re looking to help provide a more concrete solution, call our office today and we can offer a free consultation to your loved one! You can reach our expert hair technicians at (800) 966-9505.

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Birth Control and Hair Loss

When it comes to oral contraceptives, it might be a surprise to learn that hair loss is actually a common side effect! The pill has been in popular use since the 1960s, and its uses go well beyond just birth control. It helps many women keep their menstruation cycles regular, decrease symptoms of PMS, and even regulate hormones and alleviate acne. While the pill has many benefits, it may also cause hair loss.

Primarily, the pill is meant to suppress ovulation by using the hormones estrogen and progestin to block fertility. Consequently, hormones are also the main trigger for hair loss, which means that the pill puts you at risk of losing your hair. In addition to this latent risk, some women are more predisposed than others to hormone-related hair loss and have an increased likelihood of experiencing it as a side effect of using the pill.

The result of hair loss varies when it’s triggered by the pill. It can range from minimal to drastic loss, and it may not even occur until well after you have stopped taking the pill. While we aren’t arguing the safety or effectiveness of oral contraceptives, we do think that women should be forewarned that the pill might cause them hair loss. By being aware of this side effect, we hope more women can make more informed decisions about their bodies and how best to approach birth control.

If you fear you’re suffering from hormone-related hair loss, we can help you with nonsurgical hair replacement solutions and styling options. Call us today at (800) 966-9505 for a free consultation!

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Breakthrough Science Aids in Hair Regrowth

Stem cell research has held the hope for curing baldness for many years, but now a new breakthrough in bio-engineering has taken the spotlight. A team of experts has actually made it possible to create a hair follicle from your own DNA, which could pave the way for some seriously cool solutions to hair loss.

The researchers are specialists in bio-engineering and genetic regenerative medicine at Tokyo University. They’ve demonstrated an interesting technique in which they’ve been able to literally bio-engineer functional, healthy hair follicles that have a normal growth cycle and are taken straight from stem cells in existing hair follicles!

To show that these bio-engineered hair follicles function just like natural hair follicles, the scientists used a popular hair transplant technique known as follicle unit transplantation (FUT) in order to transplant the bio-engineered hair follicles onto the heads of mice. The results were incredible – not only did these transplanted bio-engineered follicles exhibit normal hair growth, but they even grew the right type of hair and in the correct direction and orientation! 

In other words, it is now possible to bio-engineer our very own fully functional hair based on our personal DNA. According to the research team, we can expect to see a practical hair replacement treatment based on this within the next three to five years. If that happens, it’s possible that we’ll see a surgical hair replacement option using bio-engineering within just one decade.

Can’t wait that long for hair replacement treatment? No worries! Here at HRC, we offer a variety of non-surgical options to suit your every need. Schedule a free consultation today at (800) 966-9505 and achieve the transformation you’ve been dreaming of!

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