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For patients who anticipate losing their hair temporarily to the effects of chemotherapy, a little planning can go a long way toward smoothing the transition to and from “hairlessness.” There are a number of attractive solutions available in the marketplace today, both from traditional wig salons and from womens’ boutiques which specialize in products for breast cancer survivors. Getting acquainted with them first-hand before hair loss (known medically as “alopecia”) occurs can help patients decide which solution is right for them. The products all cover the head, but do so at very different price points and using different materials.
Wigs are the most expensive option, but they are also the solution that most effectively allows a patient to maintain their pre-treatment appearance. Wigs are available in models made of human hair, synthetic hair, and combinations of the two.
Some insurance plans cover payment for wigs. Patients should check with their insurance provider before making a purchase to determine if they have this coverage, and if there is a dollar limit on the amount the insurer is willing to pay. Even if a patient’s insurance plan does not have this coverage, wigs may qualify as a tax-deductible medical expense.
Patients who wish to wear a wig during their hair-loss phase should visit a wig salon or women’s boutique (sometimes called “mastectomy” or “post-mastectomy” boutique) before treatment begins. This will allow a store specialist to study the patient’s hair style and color, and more closely match it to available wigs. This step is also important to women who wish to order a “custom” wig. Custom wig orders can take weeks or months to arrive, so it’s important to place an order as soon as possible.
Employees of these shops can also offer attachment and fitting tips, and advice on gentle “wig-safe” shampoo for the care and cleaning of the wig.
Hats, Scarves, and Turbans
For those who don’t wish to invest as much money in a head covering, there are a number of more inexpensive options. Hats, scarves and turbans all offer a way to disguise hair loss. And they do it for a lot less money than wigs.
Keep in mind that use of one solution doesn’t preclude the use of others. Some patients elect to wear a wig when going out in public, but choose a hat or scarf when staying at home or in other sympathetic environs. Still others choose to wear a hat, scarf or turban all of the time. One very popular solution that combines the best of both worlds is a hat or scarf with hair attached at the edges. This creates the illusion that a full head of hair lies beneath the head covering, offering an aesthetically pleasing look without the expense of a full wig.
Of course, each person will have to choose the solution that best meets their needs. A competent salesperson can answer questions and suggest various products, but the ultimate choice falls to the consumer and the person looking back at them in the mirror.
For a list of stores in your area that may offer hair loss solutions (call to inquire), try the Amoena store locator.