Cold Caps Help Prevent Hair Loss from Chemotherapy

Hair loss is one of the most visible side effects of chemotherapy, but when patient Carolyn Dempsey went through four powerful cycles of treatment for breast cancer, her blonde locks remained intact, thanks to a new scalp cooling system designed to prevent hair loss.

Carolyn was part of a group of breast cancer patients that tested the DigniCap for a clinical trial at Weill Cornell Medicine. Her story and the new technology were recently featured in “Medical Marvels,” WABC Eyewitness News’ Emmy-nominated digital series.

Cold gel ice packs in the caps cause the blood vessels in the scalp to constrict, preventing chemotherapy from penetrating into the area and discouraging hair loss, said Dr. Tessa Cigler, who led the clinical trial and was also featured in “Medical Marvels.” Patients wear the cap before, during and after chemotherapy sessions, she added.

Carolyn said using the caps impacted her outlook during treatment.

“To look at yourself in the mirror and not see the cancer is very powerful,” she said.

“By keeping your hair, that is a part of yourself that you see every day and [it] reminds you that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, that this is not getting you down, that you’re going to be a survivor.”

Watch WABC’s video to learn more about DigniCap and hear more about Carolyn’s experience.