Information Is Power
Did you know that oncologists often report that the most common first question they receive from their patients upon prescribing chemotherapy is, “Will I lose my hair?” So it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and that it’s perfectly natural to worry about your appearance and your ability to function socially during your treatment. Losing your hair due to chemotherapy can affect your self-esteem, your identity, and your self- confidence at a time when you need them most. But, with a little information and guidance, you can take control and ensure that you will look good throughout your recovery and maintain an active social life.
Wearing a Wig
Wearing a wig should be a positive aspect of your recovery and daily life. Many people find it difficult to cope with the challenges they face when wearing a wig on a daily basis, but with the right education, wearing a wig and looking natural can be no more challenging than the maintenance you used to do with your own hair.
The following information will explain how to go about purchasing a natural looking wig and how to maintain it on a daily basis so that you will look and feel as normal as you truly are.
Let’s get started!
Types Of Wigs
Before we discuss the steps involved in shopping for a wig, it will help to understand the different types that are available to you.
Stock Machine-made Wigs
Machine-made wigs are mass-produced using “wefts” of hair stitched to an open elastic wig cap.“Wefts”are elastic cords with hair stitched into them that are then stitched in layers around a cap. These are the most detectable, because the hair doesn’t appear to “grow” out of any specific point. You can order one of these from a wig catalog and have it within three days or purchase one from a wig shop and have it the same day. This is an out- of-the-box solution, and it is the least expensive type of wig.
Customized Stock Wigs
These wigs are also mass-produced, but are usually at least partially handmade. This means that the hair is sewn into the wig cap by hand, as opposed to wefting it in. The benefits of handmade wigs over machine-made wigs are that they can be customized to look and fit more natural, and they can often be found with a more natural looking hairline. You can order one of these from a wig catalog and have it within three days or purchase one from a wig shop and have it the same day. Give yourself an additional two weeks for customizing and alterations.
Medical Hair Prostheses
The term “Medical Hair Prosthesis” or M.H.P. is one with which you will want to become familiar. AN MHP generically refers to any type of semi-custom or completely custom-made wig that is specifically designed to conceal medically related forms of hair loss, such as the side effects of chemotherapy. Many wigs, especially machine made and stock wigs are designed only for fashion and are not adequate to meet the needs of someone experiencing medically related hair loss. It is important to remember that they are not all created equally. Some custom and semi-custom MHP’s can actually reproduce the exact look of your natural hair, color, style, texture, and hairline- while others cannot.
A custom wig is handmade and custom designed to fit the shape of your head and to match the color of your own hair. These are the most natural looking wigs and are often worn by actors in film when they need to look a certain way for a role. Often, a well-made custom wig is completely undetectable. However, the quality of a custom wig depends on the talent of the wigmaker. Shop around. It generally takes between four and eight weeks to produce a custom wig. Prices vary depending on the designer, the quality of the hair used.
Shopping for a Wig
As soon as you know you will be undergoing chemotherapy, you will want to start shopping for a wig. This will give you the greatest flexibility in choosing the right wig for you, and it will give you time to make a smooth transition into wearing the wig so that it will be least noticeable.
DON’T CUT YOUR HAIR SHORT!
Some people will suggest you should cut your hair short as soon as you know you will start chemotherapy, because it will make wearing a wig with a shorter hair style is easier to manage. If your hair is long enough and you are interested in a semi custom Medical Hair Prosthesis, you can take advantage of yourHAIRx’s optional patented harvesting process.
Don’t lose your hair to chemo. Save it.
Our patented design process enables us to harvest a portion of your own hair when you begin treatment that we incorporate into the hair line of your finished MHP Hair System. Nothing looks more natural than your own hair, and during your treatment and recovery, seeing the person you recognize in the mirror each day will help give you the confidence to continue with your normal life. If you’ve just been prescribed chemotherapy, book a consultation with yourHAIRx as soon as possible so that we can harvest your existing hair. The process is totally discreet, and it will not be noticeable before you begin losing your hair to chemotherapy.
This technique also gives you the most flexility in choosing a style, as you can still cut your hair short after yourHAIRx has utilized some of your own hair in the making of your MHP. If this appeals to you, contact yourHAIRx to book an appointment for a free, private consultation as soon as you know you will need to undergo chemotherapy.
Talk to your oncologist to find out as much as you can about how your treatment and medications will affect your hair loss. Generally, patients begin losing their hair after the second session of chemotherapy, however this varies from person to person and can also be affected by different medications.
Be sure to ask your doctor to write you a prescription for a Medical Hair Prosthesis or Cranial Prosthesis. Insurance companies are far more willing to reimburse or pay for a wig if it is described this way rather than simply as a “wig”.
Once you have this prescription, talk to your insurance company to find out how much they are willing to pay or reimburse you for a wig. This will give you an idea of what your budget is and what you can afford to spend.
Begin gathering estimates. It is likely that your insurance company will require these before they will reimburse you, but even if you are purchasing the wig with your own money, having consultations and collecting several estimates is a good way to make an informed decision about a purchase that is so important to your recovery process.
If you’re not sure what type of wig you want to purchase, you might consider having consultations with wigmakers and wig shops that sell various types. This way you will know what the price range is and the quality that is attached to that price. Remember that the burden of proof should always be on the wigmaker. That is to say that you should never have to purchase anything without first being able to see the product or the designer’s work with your own eyes. Be sure to get a copy of their guarantee. An honest wigmaker will allow you some recourse if you are unsatisfied..
Once you have decided on a wigmaker and are ready to make your purchase, you will need to make a few decisions. You will want to start by choosing the style and color of the wig. The photograph you had taken of yourself will be a great help in this regard. The style should be as close as possible to your current style so that the transition you make toward wearing the wig will be a smooth one.
- Choose hair color for the wig that is the shade lighter than your own hair color this small variance will divert attention away from the wig so that ut is less noticeable
- Choose a wig with highlights in the hairline
- If you are having a wig custom-made or customized highlights can be done more accurately and will be described later
Decide between human and synthetic hair all types of wigs can be made from either type of hair there are advantages and disadvantages to each and your decision should be based on your own personal feelings.
Sleeping on a satin pillowcase will help keep your hair from falling out as quickly and is also recommended if you intend to sleep with a wig made of synthetic hair. The friction of your head against a normal pillowcase will cause the hair to frizz over time.
Consider choosing a wig with a lace front. The hair is sewn into the hairline of this type of wig by hand given it a more natural appearance if you choose to wear your hair off your face or without bangs. All types of wigs can be made with a lace front though custom-made wigs often have the most natural hairline. The photos you see are the MHP designed by yourhairx for medical hair loss clients and they all feature a lace front hairline. Not all companies hairlines look this good but you can see what’s possible and just how natural and MHP can look..
Order your wig. You will want to do this as soon as you make your decision and ideally the wig should be in place and ready to wear before you begin losing your hair. This will give you the most time to make changes as necessary. Remember wearing a wig during recovery should make you look good and feel better. Planning ahead will make this very easy.
When the wig arrives, whether you have ordered a stock wig or a custom-made wig you may want to have some alterations or adjustments made. A common problem with all types of wigs is that they are made with enough hair for two natural looking wigs. Have your wig stylist cut the wig down to match the density of your own hair before you started to lose it. If you have already begun to lose your hair and your photo will once again be very helpful. You may also want to have highlights added particularly around entire hairline. No one’s hair is one solid color which is one reason why wigs are often noticeable so have the wigmaker add highlights that are three shades later than your hair color to the hairline and add two shades lighter to the temple. This minor change will make any wig look more natural.