Hair length/style and cold cap

Hi, I’m having 6 x FEC-T from the 17th March and I’m toying with the idea of cutting my hair into a short hair style (pixie cut or similar).  It’s currently below shoulder and thick so this would be quite a change and I’d really appreciate some views on this to help me decide whether to go for it or not.  My reasoning is as follows:

 

Pro:

  1. Short hair will mean less thickness for the cold cap to penetrate…so better chance of success

  2. Short hair shedding is less to clean up 

  3. Short hair may mean more even shedding over the scalp, so perhaps this will be less obvious 

  4. Short hair is easier to keep so less pulling on fragile hair…

 

Con:

  1. Advice seems to be that your hair whould be cut no longer than a bob but I’ve found nothing to say that you should necessarily cut it shorter than that.  So is a short hair cut actually going to help the cold cap work better and help prevent/minimise hair loss or not?

  2. Will longer hair actually conceal thinning better than a short hair style…?

  3. Although I have long hair it is very low maintenance and I worry a short cut might prove to be more of a hassle.  Currently I dry it naturally, often wear it tied back in a scrunchy etc  Judging by my son’s bed head he has to style his short hair every morning…

 

So, to conclude I’m very pro cutting it short if that will increase the chances of me keeping it however I do worry that cutting it will make no appreciable difference and I needn’t have bothered…

 

I’d really like to hear from anyone else who has experienced this (or is going through it) and what decision they made and whether they’d do the same again etc…

 

Thank you, Marie

Hi Marie - I have had 4 of 6 Taxotere chemo sessions  and have used the cold cap. I am very pleased with the hair I have retained although it has lost condition and is finer and I have one small patch where it has thinned. The thin patch is where my hair was at its thickest and I did have it cut shorter before the second treatment. I have always had short hair. I have bought some “fill in powder” to brush on and this disguises the thin patch .( About £6 from Amazon)

I lost most hair the first session and less with each of the other and on Saturday lost hardly any so it important not to panic when it starts shedding and cut it all off.

There is a fantastic website called cancerhaircare.co.uk which tells you everything you need to know during treatment for cancer. On the left-hand side there is a menu and a section called Scalp Cooling. Click on this and it gives loads of information about using the cold cap. There is a link to  a leaflet from The Lister Hospital about making a decision about using the cold cap. It is really comprehensive and I have found it really useful and informative. I downloaded it as a PDF document I think after emailing the address given. You should be able to make an informed decision that is right for you.

I am very please with the result having lost all of my hair 5 years ago. I know that at the end of treatment I will have hair and that I will be able to colour it with vegetable colour before my surgery.

Hope this information might help you make a decision. Good luck . Marli xx

Hi Marie

I have short hair anyway but the nurses told me that short hair was ‘better’ as the weight of long hair made it more likely that it would fall out when weakened. Not sure if this is true!  The BCC booklet on hair loss gives some suggestions - including not washing your hair too often and using a mild shampoo - both of which I did (you can find this in publications section of this site). 

 

The thing I found made most difference was getting a good fit for the cold cap. The cap system I used had a small (too small) and large (too large) size - they are supposed to be developing an intermediate size! Due to it being too loose in first session I lost some hair afterwards where it did not fit closely to the scalp - after this the nurses kindly packed it to make it fit tighter and this really helped. I ended up with a noticeable strip of thinned hair running from one ear over the top to the other (where the cap bulged away from scalp) - but I could cover this up using hairbands from Claire’s and never used a wig. Also had a really good cap to wear in strong sunshine (I was advised to protect head from sun) - hair at back and front so it looked fine, as did the hairbands. At the back where the cold cap fitted tightly hair looked virtually normal and the fringe looked OK even though I knew it was a bit thinner than usual. The cold cap manufacturer claimed that even if hair did thin it would recover more quickly and also more likely to grow back the same colour (I had been slightly worried that I might end up with a different coloured strip over the top!). In my case it certainly did recover fast (started growing back by end of last cycle) and it was the same colour. Certainly very glad I stuck with the cold cap and grateful to the nurses for trying to get as tight a fit as possible - not sure about long/short hair but getting a good fit is vital!

 

In case it helps the nurses also suggested to me that I get some Talika Lipocils gel and put it on my eyebrows and eyelashes every day - starting just before chemo. They said other people had found that it prevented loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. I got some from Amazon and it certainly seemed to work for me (eyebrows thinned a bit but very much still there).

 

If your area offers Look Good Feel Better workshops I would certainly recommend going to one of these too - they were very booked up so I could not get a place until towards the end of chemo but really glad I went. I don’t wear much make up but the tips on moisturisers etc were helpful and above all it was a really fun afternoon which was just what I wanted at the time. 

 

Best wishes - hope it all goes well for you.

 

Hi Marie. I took the advice of my hairdresser that had seen several of her good friends go through the cold cap. She advised me to have my hair cut in a short one length Bob which was great for concealing a few thin patches. As the cap doesn’t reach right down to the nape of my neck I lost the bottom layer but it wasn’t noticeable at all due to my bob covering it. It is important to get good contact with the cool cap and towards the end my nurse used a medium size with a small cap cover to make it tighter. If you click on my profile I’ve put some pictures on of my hair journey. Good luck and if you have any questions just ask.

 

Hi Marie

I had the same dilemma as you before I started chemo.  I was determined to use the cold cap, but I had long shoulder length very thick hair and didn’t know whether to cut it short or not, or if it would work at all, as my hair is so thick.   My BCN advised me not to have a drastic cut and so in the end I decided to have my hair thinned a lot by the hairdresser, especially at the back where it it is thickest, but I only had a couple of inches chopped off the length.  Roll forward 5 chemo sessions later and with the cold cap and I still have a lot of hair especially around the front top and sides although much thinner at the back.  Because I kept it long I have been able to clip it back, swept back off my face, and very few people can tell, even those who know me well, that it has thinned out a lot at the back.   Had I cut it short I wouldn’t have had enough length at the front to cover over the sparser patches at the back.  My other issue has been that my remaining hair has continued to grow so I have been battling with grey roots, but I use powder called Color Wow Root cover up which is brilliant - I bought if from the hairdresser but I believe you can buy in on Amazon.

 

The chemo unit uses the Dignicap system and I have a medium hat with a smaller one over it to ensure a tight fit.  I also bought a silk pillow case, and when I wash my hair about every 6 days I use Holland and Barrett Aloe Vera organic shampoo and conditioner and leave it to air dry.

 

Wishing you  luck with your decision and treatment.

Hi, this is my first post on this forum. I’ve been lurking for a while but took the plunge and joined today.
I started my chemo at the end of Jan. (FEC-T). Have had 2 so far and 3rd one next week.
I’ve always been precious about my hair. It’s the one thing I’ve always spent money on. When my children were little and we had no money I would always squirrel away pennies to get my hair cut well.
I’d had it short for a long time but spent the last 2 years growing it. Got it to shoulder length and just bought my first pair of straighteners when I was diagnosed with BC. When I found out about my treatment plan I was devastated about the thought of losing my hair. I bought a wig and several head coverings before my chemo started.
I am using the cold cap and so far it’s working for me. Some has come out but I have no bald patches and what I have lost doesn’t show so far. Yes, the cold cap is painful and makes chemo day a lot longer but once past the first 10 - 15 minutes it’s bearable.
They damp my hair down, smother it in Simple conditioner and I use a hair band to protect my ears. I wash it once a week in Simple shampoo very gently and condition it after. A lot of days my hair looks sad and manky but I use a scrunchie to tie it back or a hair band. I use dry shampoo in between and I sleep on a silk pillowcase.
I did at one point see my (very lovely) hairdresser to have my hair chopped but I couldn’t do it.
My BCN told me the cold cap does work for some people but there is no telling in advance who it works for.
Hope this helps in some way.

Hi Angie and welcome to the BCC forums

Along with the support here, our helpliners are on hand for you with further practical and emotional support on 0808 800 6000, 9-5 weekdays and 10-2 Saturdays

Here’s a link to the treatments area of the site where you will find lots more support ideas and information which I hope you will find helpful:

breastcancercare.org.uk/treatment

Take care
Lucy BCC

Hi Padfoot,
I have used the cap through 3x FEC and 1x Tax. Still have a full head of hair, albeit a little thin.
My bcn says it falls out less with Tax, and that is my hope for my last 2 Tax.
I take a tramadol as I arrive at hospital, wet my hair but don’t use conditioner, and then make sure we fit the cap carefully. My bcn takes time with this and we wait until the temp has dropped sufficiently before starting chemo.
My eyelashes and eyebrows stayed intact throughout FEC but have thinned a lot through the first tax. I hold icecubes( from a thermos) on my eyebrows to collapse them!
Good luck. I think collapsing is worth it if it works for you x

Hello to everybody .

finish my chemo , i lost my hair 70% with wearing cold cap but the main thing its  finished  and i hope i will never go through  this again . 

 

GOING HOME TO RUSSIA ! Its 8 months im in UK . I miss my family , miss my job , miss my happy life .

 

I wish to all of you to get well soon , take care . xxx 

Hello there,I diagnose stage 3 and starting my FEC chemo next week, I bought cold cup,but my onco,advice dont use it,their is possible to get a brain cancer,because the drug cant go thru the brain because of cold.Please help me guys for your advice,Is there anyond here encounter this issue.Best wishes to all of us…

Hi Ayyeth and welcome to the BCC forums

I am posting this information for others who may read your post and be concerned, the link is to the Macmillan website about wearing cold caps as I don’t think you are posting this from the UK and so advice may be different:

macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/hair-loss/scalp-cooling.html

Best wishes
Lucy BCC