You Really Can Make a Difference

By Carly Klein, President, National Hair Loss Medical Aesthetics

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Cancer touches us all in some shape or form over the course of our lives. Friends, family, colleagues, yourself. You never know who may get cancer or when, or exactly how it may impact your own life.

Carly Klein

The first questions a cancer patient commonly asks are: Is this curable? Will I lose my hair with chemotherapy?

Hair loss is common with most chemotherapy treatments. Once treatment has been completed, it may take up to a year for hair to grow long enough to feel comfortable.

We were one of the first in the country to have a specific cancer division devoted to helping patients with their hair loss after chemo. There are so many misconceptions and misinformation about hair loss and treatments that people seemed to lose hope and do not know which way to turn.

How To Take Care of Hair During Cancer Treatment

It is important to be washing the hair or scalp daily to every other day even when there are no visible follicles. It is important to keep the scalp as clean as possible to create a fresh clean slate for hair growth to occur.

Look for a paraben and sulfate-free shampoo, which is healthier and gentler on the skin and follicles. Baby shampoo would not be an appropriate cleanser for the scalp as the pH levels of an infant are different from that of an adult.

Even if hair loss is actively occurring from chemotherapy, it is important to still be washing hair and scalp consistently to help level out the amount of shedding you are seeing. Some find it helpful to cut the hair shorter to make the loss less traumatic.

Ninety Percent of Women Regard Hair Loss as the Worst Side Effect of Cancer Treatment

If hair loss occurs from chemotherapy, it is typically between the second and third treatments. Adequate hair growth following chemotherapy may take 10 months to one year and returning hair may be different from the hair that was lost.

Due to the absence or alteration of pigment, the hair may grow back white, gray, or a different color. Eventually, as the pigment cells return to normal, the original color should return. It is common for the new hair to return finer in texture initially.

Misconception: As soon as chemo ends hair will grow back full and quickly.

In actuality, the rate of growth for hair post-chemo can be much slower. Normal hair grows ½ inch to one inch a month on a normal young adult. This is much slower when recovering from chemo, surgeries, and radiation series. Hair typically will grow on the sides and back of the headfirst, and the top grows the slowest.

Your body pulls energy (mitochondria) from wherever it can get its resources internally to heal and recuperate. Your body always pulls the energy from the hair and skin and nails. That is why those areas are the last to return to normal after treatments.

Variables that can dictate hair growth following chemotherapy are a person’s overall health, the number of chemotherapy treatments, the type of chemotherapy that was used, and if there was hair loss before cancer treatments. We also find that those who may be on inhibitor medications following cancer may have a slower rate of regrowth compared to a person who is not on these medications.

Genetic Hair Loss and Chemotherapy Hair Regrowth

A staggering 90% of the population experience genetic hair thinning at some point in their lives. Throw into the mix of sickness, medications, or chemotherapy and a person can be faced with losing hair at an alarming rate.

We know that telogen effluvium or shock hair loss is not a permanent type of loss. However, if there is a mass exodus of hair there will also be a massive regrowth. When examining your client, check if the hair is growing more quickly in the back and sides of the head, is the hair finer and thinner in the temples and top of the head to the crown region? If you are trained to look at your client microscopically, what is the density of the new hair growth coming in? These are all signs that the client also has genetic hair thinning and will need not only a short-term plan of action but a long-term plan to grow the hair and keep normal density as much as possible.

Boosting Hair Growth Following Chemotherapy

There are a variety of ways to boost growth following cancer treatments. These are some of the methods we have successfully utilized for years with great outcomes:

Compounded Prescription Topicals can be utilized to trick hairs into an active growth cycle. These do not need to be used long-term but rather as a booster until desired results are achieved.

At-Home Medical Grade Laser Therapy increases cell metabolism and the health of blood vessels in the scalp for thicker, supple, and more durable hair shafts. This method has no side effects, which makes it especially appropriate for long-term use to meet hair goals. Not to be mistaken with LED light or cohesive laser-red light devices which do not penetrate to the proper depth. We have results in 50% faster growth when using medical-grade laser therapy.

  Hair Analysis Testing can be utilized to help your client healthily get into their cancer recovery phase. Strands of hair are collected from the scalp or eyebrows and tested for all food and drink intolerances, and vitamin, mineral, fatty acid, and antioxidant deficiencies. This also tests for the presence of toxic metals, parasites, or EMF disturbances in the body. We have long utilized this test for clients who seem to be doing everything right and still falling short of where they should be with results. Looking deeper within the body for additional puzzle pieces helps us to get a person on a faster pace toward hair and health recovery.

Supporting Your Own Cancer Community

Since the conception of my company, assisting cancer patients in their next chapter of recovery has always been held near and dear to my heart. My team has run with this passion and created a global support group called “HERE.” This is based on the premise that HERE, a client will find support, community, and resources before during, and after their cancer diagnosis and on into survivorship. We have trained numerous practitioners and image professionals the world over to take on their local cancer communities and offer care, support, and empathy. It is within your power to make a difference!