Steps to Follow to Handle Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
- Visit a wig specialist before hair loss begins.
- Choose a wig establishment that provides quality and advice.
- Consider a wig with tape tabs.
- Consider getting two wigs.
- Find out if insurance will cover the cost of a wig.
- Consider other hair loss accessories.
- Be aware that hair may re-grow slowly and differently after chemotherapy.
- Consider joining a support group.
- Additional Resources and References
Wig prices range from less than $100 to over $1000. Many insurance companies will cover 80% or more of the wigs cost if it is needed for medical reasons. Companies usually require proof of a prescription for a hair prosthesis from a physician. Women should have the wig establishment include the statement, "Hair prosthesis as prescribed by doctor" on the wig invoice statement.(1) The purchase of a wig for a medical reason is tax deductible. Be sure to save all receipts from wig establishments.
In almost all cases, once chemotherapy has ended, a womans hair will re-grow when the hair follicles that are weakened from treatment regain their strength. However, it may take six to 12 months for hair to grow back completely. Therefore, most women continue to wear wigs for several months after chemotherapy has ended. When hair initially begins to grow again, it may have a different texture or color. For example, some women with straight hair notice that their hair grows back more curly after chemotherapy. These variations in texture and color are usually not permanent.
There are many organizations that help women cope with the side effects of breast cancer treatment. For example, Look Good...Feel Better (LGFB) is a free, national public service program that teaches female cancer patients about beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during cancer treatment. LGTB was created in 1989 by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) Foundation, the National Cosmetology Association, and the American Cancer Society. Through LGFB sessions, women learn how to cope with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment such as hair loss or skin discoloration. To find a LGFB chapter in a specific area, women may call 1.800.395.LOOK or contact their local American Cancer Society office.
- For information on where to purchase hair loss accessories please visit http://www.imaginis.com/breasthealth/hair_loss.asp
- (1) Look of Love International provides information on hair loss alternatives at http://www.lookoflove.com/.
- Tender Loving Care, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, offers a variety of fashionable turbans, hats, and accessories for women who have experienced hair loss during cancer treatment. Women may browse product lines at http://www.cancer.org/
- Headcovers Unlimited offers hats, wigs, and turbans for women experiencing hair loss at http://www.headcovers.com/
Updated: September 10, 2007