Hair loss is one of chemotherapy's most recognized side effects. For decades, a cold cap has been used by women in Europe and Canada to try to prevent hair loss associated with chemo, and now, U.S. researchers are putting the hair-preserving treatment to the test.
The cold cap is strapped on snugly to the head and cools the scalp down to 41 degrees. It's worn right before, during and after the chemotherapy treatment. When you're cold, you constrict your blood vessels, which means less chemotherapy reaches the scalp.
Only 3 of 37 women in a trial by a cold cap distributor in the Midwest said they felt the need to wear a wig following treatment.
Headaches, ear pain and shivers tend to go away after the first five minutes of use. After the initial "shock," patients are typically pretty comfortable for the next 20 minutes of use, FOX 9 medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou says.
While cold caps are not FDA-approved as medical devices in the United States, they are available. Rental fees for the caps are about $500 per month.