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Why Radiation Can Cause Hair Loss

Why Radiation Can Cause Hair Loss

If you’re undergoing cancer treatment that includes radiation, you’re probably concerned about the side effects—including possible hair loss or radiation-induced alopecia. The idea of losing some or all of your hair adds extra stress and trauma to your cancer diagnosis. 

At Honest Hair Restoration in Bradenton and Tampa, Florida, board-certified physician Martin Maag, MD, and our compassionate care team understand. Our practice specializes in helping patients struggling with radiation-related hair loss regrow their hair when possible, beginning with a comprehensive hair loss consultation.

Keep reading to learn more about the link between radiation therapy and hair loss and how Dr. Maag and the team can help you regrow your hair. 

Radiation and hair loss

Radiation therapy can trigger hair loss. But unlike chemotherapy, which affects your entire system, radiation only causes hair loss in the area being treated or where the beams pass through. 

This means if you have radiation on your head, it can impact your hair follicles. But if you have radiation on another area of the body, like your abdomen, chest, or leg, you’ll only lose body hair in those locations—not your head. 

The amount of hair loss you experience from radiation therapy varies based on your treatment protocol. In other words, patients who have a higher dose of radiation or undergo radiation therapy longer tend to lose more hair. 

Some people only have mild doses of radiation, which can affect hair growth temporarily. Once the treatment ends, these patients see new hair growth in about three to six months. Keep in mind, however, that your new hair may be thinner or different in texture than your hair before treatment. 

If you undergo radiation therapy on your head, the treatment may also affect the health of your scalp. Many patients report having inflamed, irritated, or dry areas on their scalps. These are often the first areas that lose hair. 

For patients who receive high doses of radiation, permanent hair loss can occur as the result of permanent damage to the hair follicles. This side effect is also more common in patients with primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors in the head or neck.  

Regrowing hair after radiation

The good news is that for most patients, it’s possible to regrow hair after radiation therapy. Recent research has found that even for patients with long-term radiation-induced alopecia after high doses of radiation, hair-stimulating therapies can help regrow hair. 

At Honest Hair Restoration, Dr. Maag approaches hair restoration from the perspective of a medical physician. He carefully evaluates your medical history—including your radiation therapy—and inspects the health of your scalp.

He works with you and our team of experts to create a personalized hair restoration strategy that may include:

For patients with permanent, patchy, or localized hair loss caused by radiation, Dr. Maag may recommend hair transplantation with NeoGraft®-assisted ProGrowth Combination follicular unit extraction (FUE), the gold-standard in addressing alopecia-related hair loss. 

If you’re struggling with radiation-induced alopecia, speak to a hair-loss expert by scheduling a consultation online or over the phone at the Honest Hair Restoration office nearest you.

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