Cold Cap Therapy

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Lauren’s Story

Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2020. She utilized a relatively new technology called “Cold Cap Therapy” during her chemo treatments that have proven results in helping patients to not lose their hair.

The Cold Caps are worn during each chemotherapy session and the patient needs to have a support person there to monitor the temperature of the cap and apply each cap to the patient’s head. The cooling of the scalp begins about 60 minutes prior to the beginning of the first infusion and continues until a certain time after the last infusion. The amount of time the cap needs to be worn is customized to each patient and is determined by the combination of medicine the patient is receiving. The caps begin to thaw while on the patients’ heads and need to be rotated at regular intervals to maintain the degree of coldness needed to be effective.

What is a Cold Cap?

The Cold Cap is a tight fitting, helmet type device that is filled with a gel coolant. The caps are chilled to a temperature ranging between -15 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This system works by narrowing the blood vessels beneath the scalp thus reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine to penetrate the hair follicles. The hair is less likely to fall out when the chemotherapy medicines are not penetrating the delicate hair follicles. The cold is also effective in decreasing the activity of the hair follicles, which slows down the cell division and makes the follicles less vulnerable to the chemotherapy medicines.

The caps are VERY cold and can be painful and uncomfortable as a result, but the potential rewards are worth it to a woman who desperately wants to keep her hair. The cancer journey can be long and arduous, and when all the treatments and surgeries are over, a patient wants desperately to move on from the difficulties, struggle, and pain. She is ready to enjoy her newfound health and life. Unfortunately, it would still take some women years to grow their hair back to its pre-cancer condition. The Cold Cap Therapy helps to alleviate this common and distressing side effect of chemotherapy.

Patients who use the Cold Cap Therapy are advised to be extremely gentle with their hair for the duration of their treatments and then for a period of time after completion. Some restrictions include:

  • no blow drying, hot rollers, curling irons or straightening tools
  • shampoo only every third or fourth day with cool water and a very gentle shampoo
  • no coloring until 3 months after chemotherapy is complete
  • only gentle combing and brushing
  • no hats or anything applying pressure to the scalp
  • no sweating or excessive perspiration on the scalp

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