“Scalp cooling is a clinically proven method of preventing hair loss caused by certain chemotherapy agents. Previously, we encountered many patients who simply refused chemotherapy due to the fear and stigma of losing their hair. That has not been the case since we implemented the scalp cooling system. The system has been highly effective in preventing hair loss among the patients with a success rate of more than 70%,” said Dr. Viraj Lavingia.
The scalp cooling method has been used for a long time in Europe and is also approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Paxman, a UK-based company, created the scalp cooling system used by Dr. Viraj Lavingia.
He explained how the scalp cooling method works by saying, “Chemotherapy attacks the body’s rapidly dividing cells. Chemo drugs cause hair loss because hair is the second fastest dividing cell after skin. The scalp cooling therapy cools the hair follicles before, during, and after chemotherapy.
It causes the blood vessels in the scalp to constrict, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicles. It makes hair less likely to fall out.”
While the physical benefit of scalp cooling is well known, the option to avoid hair loss improves the psychological well-being of chemotherapy patients. Even when there is some hair loss during chemotherapy, the hair grows back in some cases because the scalp cooling therapy successfully protects the hair follicles from damage.
According to Dr. Lavingia, the scalp cooling method is used for patients with all solid tumour cancers who are receiving chemotherapy. It is not, however, used in patients with blood cancers or those undergoing bone marrow transplants.