Whether your hair will grow back and how quickly it will grow back will depend on the combination of drugs used, the strength of the dose and how many sessions of treatment you had. Your cancer specialist should be able to tell you what is likely to happen for you.
Any hair loss from chemotherapy treatment will almost always grow back. However, the new hair can be different from before treatment. It may be curlier, straighter or finer. It is sometimes fluffy and may be a different colour. Many people find their hair grows back unevenly at different speeds. Facial hair such as beards and moustaches may also grow back patchy or a different colour. This may take a while to return to what it was like before treatment.
Sometimes, the changes to your new hair growth can be permanent, but this is rare. At first, the hair will be very fine, but in most people, the hair will gradually become thicker.
You will probably have a full head of hair after 3–6 months.
If you’re concerned about your hair growth after treatment, speak to your doctor or nurse.
Twelve months after treatment, you should have a good idea of how thick your new hair will be. We have tips on how to look after your hair after treatment.
Hair re-growth after radiotherapy will depend on lots of things, including the type and dose of treatment, the number of treatments given and the area of your body affected. Your radiographer can usually tell you before the treatment if your hair is likely to grow back.
If you have been told your hair will grow back, this can start once your skin has healed after treatment. On average, your hair will start to grow back 3–6 months after finishing your treatment, but it may take longer if the treatment dose has been high. The hair that grows back may be thinner, patchy or a different colour. After 12 months, you should have a good idea of how your new hair will look and feel.
Sometimes the hair loss is permanent. This can be especially upsetting if it affects the hair on your head.
If you have hair loss on your head, you may want to wear a hairpiece, wig or some other type of headwear. It may also be possible to have a hair transplant. However, hair transplants are specialised treatments that aren’t available on the NHS. If you are considering a hair transplant, contact the Institute of Trichologists for a list of qualified surgeons. This option is not suitable for everyone. You can read more about your options.
Any hair loss from hormonal or targeted (biological) therapies nearly always grows back once you have finished treatment. Your doctor can advise you about the type of drug you are taking.