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Why won't my hair grow back after radiation treatment? i had a brain tumor 15 years ago, with intense radiation following chemo. my hair has not grown back since. i'm very self conscious about it and really want it to grow back. luckily, my hair grows ove

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Radiation Oncology 27 years experience
I : I am sorry to hear that you have permanent hair loss. This can occur after radiation therapy for brain tumors, although it is much more unusual today than it was 15 years ago due to better technology that focuses the radiation where it needs to go in the brain and avoids the scalp. Most non-surgical hair growth treatments like rogaine (minoxidil) or low-level light therapy do not work well in this situation because the number of hair follicles in the area of hair loss is decreased. There are some institutions and doctors that have performed surgical procedures to reverse the hair loss. If the skin is not scarred and is otherwise healthy, there has been some success with hair transplants like the ones men can get for male pattern baldness. If the skin is more significantly changed by the radiation or there is notable scaring, these types of procedures to transplant hair follicles are unlikely to work and more extensive reconstructive surgery using a tissue expander where they put a balloon under the skin and stretch out the normal skin nearby and then move the new skin over the bald patch has been tried. It's a lot to go through for a cosmetic problem and insurance probably won't pay for it. The risks of a healing problem after the surgery might also be a bit higher from the prior radiation. If you are really interested in pursuing this further, i'd try to find a plastic surgeon in your area with experience caring for burn patients as similar reconstructive techniques are used.
Dr. Lawrence Hochman
Radiation Oncology 31 years experience
Unlikley: Since you had full dose radiation treatment to your scalp in the past it's not likely that your hair will ever grow back.

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Last updated Mar 17, 2017

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