Chemotherapy is one of the mainstay treatments to fight cancer. No doubt it can save your life, but it does have some severe side effects, such as hair loss.
Chemotherapy drugs kill fast-dividing cells. As it cannot differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells, it also affects the hair follicles. Due to this, patients may lose some or all their hair from their scalp and the rest of the body.
The hair grows back once the treatment is over. However, for a few people, the hair growth may be patchy, and the hair loss can be permanent in rare cases.
Dr. G. K. Sharma, a leading hair transplant surgeon in India, explains, “Hair does not resume growing again immediately after chemotherapy, as it takes time for the drugs to leave the body and stop harming healthy cells.”
He further states that most patients will first notice fuzzy, thin, uneven hair growth after chemo. Proper hair will start growing after 4 to 6 weeks.
Suppose there is any issue with hair growth after chemotherapy. In that case, you can visit QHT Regrow Hair Clinic, a world-class hair transplant clinic in Haridwar, India, for advanced hair solutions for chemotherapy patients.
Read on to understand how long the hair takes to grow post chemo.
Does hair grow back unevenly after chemo?
Following chemo, the initial hair growth appears as a fine fuzz, which may be difficult to notice from a distance. Sometimes the hair may grow straight upwards, making it challenging to handle and style.
“I see several patients with patchy, uneven hair growth after chemo,” says Dr. G. K. Sharma. “This happens when some hair follicles enter active growth phase earlier than others, due to which the hair length may be uneven and look patchy.”
Eventually, the hair will settle into a more predictable growth pattern. However, the texture and color may be different from before.
Several chemotherapy patients have mentioned that the hair that grows back after the treatment is more brittle, curlier, and hard to manage. This change can be temporary or permanent.
Hair growth after chemotherapy: things to know
The hair does regrow after chemotherapy, but it can take some time as the hair growth is slower than normal. After treatment, the body needs time to heal and regenerate. Once it is stable, hair growth will be consistent and quicker.
In rare cases, 1 year post chemo hair growth is nil or very fine. It is due to heavy doses of chemotherapy or side effects of certain chemo drugs, like Taxotere, which can cause permanent hair loss.
Check out the hair regrowth pattern after chemotherapy:
3 to 4 weeks – Thin fuzzy hair
4 to 6 weeks – Thicker hair growth
2 to 3 months – An inch of hair growth
3 to 6 months – Around 2 to 3 inches of hair growth
12 months – Hair may be about 4 to 6 inches long
Hair growth varies from person to person, and it will take a substantial amount of time to return to your previous hairstyle.
Furthermore, factors other than post chemo hair growth agewise affect regrowth like scalp condition, overall health, and genetic predisposition of male or female pattern baldness.
Hair growth treatments post-chemotherapy
Fortunately, some treatments can help accelerate your hair growth after chemotherapy.
To learn in detail about the treatments, visit QHT Regrow Hair Clinic, a trusted hair transplant clinic in India with years of experience successfully treating all hair-related problems and conditions, including helping cancer patients with hair loss.
Low-level laser therapy
Low-level laser therapy is an excellent option for patients with chemotherapy-induced alopecia or those still struggling with hair growth issues years after treatment.
Laser therapy works by directly delivering light energy to the scalp. It encourages cellular metabolism and improves blood and oxygen flow to the follicles. The aim is to stimulate the hair from dormant to active growth.
Minoxidil is known to accelerate and encourage hair regrowth after chemotherapy. This FDA-approved topical medication for hair loss is generally used for treating pattern baldness, but it also helps hasten regrowth process after the cancer treatment.
Even though there are a few adverse effects from using minoxidil, you should discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor before using it.
How to start growing your hair back after chemotherapy?
Apart from the above treatments to stimulate hair growth post-chemo, the tips below help boost hair regrowth.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals in their natural form or as a supplement are great for your hair. You can make a conscious effort to eat a diet rich in different vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin B helps enhance blood circulation to your scalp, while vitamins C and E are good for healthy hair follicles. Biotin is excellent for promoting hair density and thickness.
Our hair is made up of protein, so naturally, protein is one of the essential nutrients for healthy hair. You can speed up the rate at which your hair grows by including both animal and plant-based proteins in your diet.
Scalp massages using essential oils such as rosemary, ylang-ylang, lavender, bergamot, etc., are highly beneficial for hair regrowth. These oils are excellent for strengthening the hair roots and nourishing the hair follicles.
Is it possible to undergo a hair transplant after chemotherapy?
Hair transplant surgery is impossible if a patient has lost all of their hair due to chemotherapy. It is so because donor hair follicles from your body or scalp are used in hair transplants. If there is no donor site, a hair transplant cannot be done.
Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be unsettling and tough but remember, it is mostly temporary. Patients yearn to get their hair back as soon as possible, but you have to be patient. And in the meantime, help promote hair growth by taking good care of yourself and being positive.
Dr. G. K. Sharma, our experienced hair transplant surgeon in India, can assist you if you are experiencing hair loss after chemotherapy or want to talk about hair restoration solutions for permanent hair loss. You can contact us to book an appointment for a consultation at QHT Regrow Hair Clinic.