Cold Caps and the Possibility of Preventing Hair Loss During Chemo
Anyone who has been through chemo, is facing chemo, or is close to someone who’s endured chemo, will tell you that the anxiety around chemotherapy-induced alopecia is really about dignity, not vanity—which is why the wider implementation of Penguin Cold Caps and other scalp cooling methods in the U.S. in recent years is such a huge deal. It’s a brilliant, deceptively simple system: Worn during, before, and after each treatment, what the -22 degree liquid-filled helmet does is reduce the flow of blood to the scalp, significantly stifling the delivery of chemotherapy toxins to the area, allowing hair follicles to retain their health.
With 70% of users indeed holding onto their hair, the success rate is nothing short of jaw-dropping. But like anything else, the concept is not without its fair share of skeptics. Some oncologists are concerned that depriving the scalp of chemotherapy leaves it vulnerable to cancer in the future.
Access to cold caps is still something of a luxury (cap rental fees and the cost of the accompanying freezing equipment really adds up), an issue that inspired The Rapunzel Project—a nonprofit founded by two breast cancer survivors and dedicated to making scalp-cooling therapy available to as many cancer patients as possible.