Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Tips for Air Travel With Lymphedema

With the holiday season in tow, an increase in travelers will invade airports all over the country.  we've put together a few tips for those with lymphedema and are planning to travel by air this season.

Cabin pressure during a flight in a plane is less than the atmospheric pressure while on the ground. The decreased pressure in the cabin can cause increased swelling of the limb. If you have had a mastectomy, lumpectomy or radiation therapy you should wear compression garments while traveling by air to reduce risk of swelling.

Air travel is sedentary in nature, normally causing blood and lymphatic circulation to slow.  When you have been properly fitted for a sleeve and glove/gauntlet, it should be tight at the wrist and sit one finger width from the arm pit.

A hand piece or glove should be worn with the sleeve in order NOT to push the fluid into your hand. It is recommended to wear your sleeve 2 hours prior to flight and 2 hours after you have landed. Wearing garments applies to other types of long distance travel such as a car, train, or bus.

Travelers Tips:

-Wear comfortable clothing
-Avoid lifting and carrying heavy baggage
-Take a short walk every 2 hours
-Raise your arm and turn in circles several times
-Wear compression garments while on the trip will help prevent symptoms and swelling
-Drink plenty of liquids, avoid dehydration
-Take sunscreen, insect repellent, and extra non-scented lotion such as Eucerin

If you are in need of compression garments, call our BOC/ABC certified fitter, Kristen Knowles at 713-623-4247.  She specializes in creating customized solutions to increase mobility and decrease lymphedema swelling.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Steps to Prevent Stress-Related Hair Loss

The holiday season is known to put extra stress on both men and women.  Worrying about trying to stretch your monthly budget to pay for extra presents for the kids and family, trying to put together a holiday feast like a professional chef and even working your way through that string of lights to figure out which one is broken, are all events that we've experienced.

We've put together a few easy tips to help you avoid hair loss during the hectic holiday season:

1.  Consult your doctor to find the cause of your hair loss.  There are many medical conditions that can contribute to your hair loss including: Iron or zinc deficiency, an excess of vitamin A, a thyroid imbalance and even prescription medications.

2.  Reduce stress in your mind.  Get a massage, start an exercise routine, or even avoid stressful situations are all good ways to reduce your stress load.

3.  Find "me" time.  Set aside 30 minutes a day to write in a journal, listen to your favorite music, or drink a cup of hot tea.  All of these things will help you relax and even increase endorphins.

If you are experiencing stress-related hair loss and need help with hair replacement techniques, please call our Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness team at 713-623-4247 and set up a free consultation appointment.  We specialize in the hair duplication business and provide our clients with a supportive and discreet environment.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Preventative Mastectomy is an Option for Women Who are at a Very High Risk

From the Meadville Tribune

People around the world were shocked to learn that actress and activist Angelina Jolie opted to have a double mastectomy in 2013 to reduce her risk of breast cancer. Jolie, who was 37 years old at the time of the procedure, reportedly learned that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. In addition, the actress has a family history of cancer. Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56.

By having a preventive mastectomy, Jolie reduced her breast cancer risk from 87 percent to 5 percent, according to an op-ed piece she authored in The New York Times. Jolie is not the only well-known actress to opt for a preventive mastectomy, as fellow thespian Christina Applegate had a similar procedure in 2008 after learning she had a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. These highly publicized cases have left many women wondering if a preventive mastectomy is something they should consider.

BRCA stands for "breast cancer susceptibility genes," a class of genes known as tumor suppressors, says the National Cancer Institute. Mutations in these genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A person's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if he or she inherits a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Mutations in these genes could also put a person at increased risk for other cancers.

Genetic tests can check for mutations in BRCAgenes. During such a test, a blood sample is taken, and if a mutation is found, a person may get genetic counseling and work with a doctor to develop a plan of action. It is important to note that not all people with a genetic mutation will get breast cancer or ovarian cancer. The National Cancer Institute's "SEER Cancer Statistic Review" states a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.

Although there is no surefire way to determine if a person with a mutated gene will develop breast cancer, many women who are considered high risk opt for a preventive mastectomy to reduce their risk. Women who have a family history of breast cancer, have received positive results from gene testing, have already had cancer in one breast, or have dense breasts that make testing difficult may want to get a preventive mastectomy.

The decision to get a preventive mastectomy is not one to take lightly. Many breast centers are staffed with breast-health specialists, genetic counselors, breast surgeons, and reconstructive surgeons who can help patients make the best decision. Second opinions are strongly recommended for women considering a preventive mastectomy.

Women should understand the options available to them if they have an extremely elevated risk of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Innovations Target Risk of Lymphedema After Cancer Treatment


In the past few years, surgeons have made strides in preventing lymphedema, a potential side effect of breast cancer surgery in which a blockage in the lymphatic system causes fluid buildup and swelling in the arm.

By preserving the underarm lymph nodes in patients with less-advanced cancer, surgeons have reduced the lymphedema risk for those patients.

But lymphedema still affects an estimated 10 to 40 percent of patients, depending on the extent of the cancer and the type of surgery and radiation required.

What can be done for patients whose underarm lymph nodes can't be preserved because of the spread of cancer? Or the ones who get lymphedema despite lymph node-saving surgery?

Approaches that may help are being tested and tried at major cancer treatment centers, among them the lymphatic microsurgical preventive healing approach (LYMPHA) surgical technique, which connects lymph vessels to a nearby vein, restoring drainage when underarm lymph nodes are removed. There's also axillary reverse mapping, which seeks to identify and preserve lymph nodes related to arm drainage (as opposed to breast drainage), and highly sensitive L-Dex bioimpedance spectroscopy, which is used to diagnose lymphedema at its earliest stages, when it is most responsive to treatment.

"There are a lot of people working on different things," said Dr. Sarah McLaughlin, a breast surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

But as much as researchers would like to see advances in this area, she said, it's important to wait until new approaches are backed up by reliable data.

"It just takes time," she said.

At NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, surgeons are seeking to replicate the results of a promising Italian study, in which researchers at the University of Genoa attempted to prevent blocked drainage after lymph node removal by allowing lymph vessels to drain into a nearby vein. In the Italian study, published in 2011 in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, 4 percent of the women in the LYMPHA group had lymphedema at six months after surgery, compared to 30 percent of the women in the control group.

The NewYork-Presbyterian pilot study started in January.

"We've performed this on about seven patients, and so far, it looks very, very good," said Dr. Sheldon Feldman, chief of breast surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian. The procedure takes less than an hour, and the technique is quite simple, he said: Lymphatic vessels are basically attached into a stump of a branch of a nearby vein.

Axillary reverse mapping, in which an injection of dye is used to identify the lymph nodes that drain the arm, as opposed to the breast, for the purpose of preserving the arm lymph nodes during surgery, is being used at some large cancer centers.

Early detection of lymphedema is the aim of L-Dex bioimpedance spectroscopy technology, which uses a small electronic current to detect volume change.

"The longer lymphedema is there, the tougher it is to treat, so the idea is to have a very sensitive tool which could be used to detect very subtle changes in volume in the arm - before it's apparent to the patient, before it's apparent to the doctor," Feldman said.

"That's what this bioimpedance spectroscopy can do."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Helping a Client with Trichotillomania

We recently received the most amazing review from our client Alex in Austin, Texas. We wanted to share it with you because she really describes the struggle that trichotillomania sufferers go through. We hope you find it as touching as we do!

Yelp Review from Alex S (Austin, TX):

Having trichotillomania, I have had more than just a "bad hair day", it had been more like a "bad hair life". I first visited Ricky in April 2012, just a month before I was due to gradate college. A few weeks before that, I called my mom and told her I was going to shave my head, out of frustration and what felt like helplessness because my hair pulling had gotten so bad during my last semester at college. There was no way that I could wear the hat I typically wore every day to hide my hair, underneath the graduation cap I would have to wear to receive my diploma. So, I decided that my only option was to shave my head, swallow my pride, and walk across the stage in front of thousands of people. Something that should be a proud and exciting day for everyone, seemed like it would end up being an awkward, uncomfortable, and frankly, embarrassing situation for me. If you have trich, you can probably relate when I say, after dealing with those situations my entire life, I just wanted to have a day where I could just be myself and not have constant anxiety about everyone looking at my hair, and not me.

In the past, my mother had helped me find solutions when I was younger: wigs, extensions, etc. No matter where I went, though, I don't think anyone fully understood how my disorder worked or how to provide those kinds of solutions to a person with trich. Everything I had tried in the past looked unnatural and resulted in more eyes looking at me, so I was weary to try anything else that would cost money. Finding a doctor or psychologist that specialized in treating trichotillomania has always been a pain, so I didn't know how we would ever find a hair dresser that knew that they were doing on a person like me.

Fortunately, after a lot of digging and a visit to http://trich.org/, my mom found Ricky. I was apprehensive when she first told me about him because of all the past experiences I had with wigs and extensions looking unnatural. However, after watching the videos of him doing Kristen's hair and him doing the hairpiece on the man, I was shocked at how amazing he was at it. It all looked SO real. A week or two later, I came in for a consultation and was surprised at how comfortable they made me feel. Both Kristen and Ricky both knew SO much about trichotillomania and it was almost like they could finish my sentences when I described how dysfunctional my disorder made me feel. From there, they took measurements and figured out what kind of hair would work best for me given the areas where I pulled. After my hair order arrived, I came in for the actual hair appointment and Ricky worked his magic which was awesome to watch. He matched the color of the piece to my natural hair exactly and somehow blended the hair line of it, to make it look seamless with mine. You couldn't tell where my own hair stopped and the hair that wasn't mine started. Trichotillomania can also be very unpredictable, so since that first appointment, Ricky has done quite a bit of improvisation, which never ceases to amaze me. Some months, I come back having pulled in spots that weren't covered by the hair and on opposite sides of my head - pulling areas tend to move around. Without flinching though, Ricky ALWAYS finds a way to make your hair look good and natural. He is a master of his craft.

There aren't enough words to express how wonderful both Ricky and Kristen are. If I could give them 10 stars I would. They've helped change so many people's lives, including my own, with their unparalleled expertise, professionalism, and knowledge. With their help, I feel like I can live like a normal person for the first time in my life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lymphedema and Weight Loss

If you're overweight, you're more likely to experience problems with lymphedema. The theory is that when your body has extra fat, those tissues require more blood vessels. This creates a higher volume of blood and lymph in the arms and chest, placing a greater burden on the remaining lymph nodes and vessels after breast cancer treatment.

Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29.9 and obese as a BMI of 30 or greater. For example, a 5'5" woman weighing 150 pounds or more is considered overweight, and she is considered obese if 180 pounds or more. There are a number of online tools you can use to calculate your BMI, such as this one from the National Institutes of Health.

Some studies have shown that losing weight can significantly improve lymphedema symptoms in people who are overweight. Talk to your doctor or lymphedema therapist about creating a diet and safe exercise plan for bringing your weight down to a healthy range. You can also ask if there is a nutritionist who can help you make an eating plan that will help you lose weight. Many hospitals and cancer centers have nutritionists on staff.  Since being overweight also increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence, it's doubly important to take steps to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

If you're at a healthy weight now, work to stay within your current range. Good nutrition and safe exercise are your best allies. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bandages for Lymphedema

Bandaging is a mainstay of treatment for stage 2 and stage 3 lymphedema (moderate to severe lymphedema). Bandaging involves creating a soft cast on the arm or upper body by wrapping with multiple layers. This is a main component of the larger treatment regimen called complete decongestive therapy, or CDT, and many research studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CDT. While there aren't many studies that focus just on bandaging, the small amount of research available suggests that bandaging can reduce arm volume.

At first, your lymphedema therapist should do the bandaging for you while teaching you the right technique. Some therapists provide an instructional DVD or written directions to guide you. The process starts with an inner liner made of stocking-like fabric or gauze, also known as a stockinette. The liner would be placed over the arm and hand after moisturizing the skin with a gentle lotion such as Eucerin or Curel. Try to avoid lotions with anything that could irritate the skin, such as perfumes or dyes.

In most cases, padding made of polyester, cotton, or foam would be placed over the stockinette, followed by multiple overlapping layers of short-stretch bandages. Short-stretch bandages look like the Ace bandages you might get at the drugstore, but they're much less stretchy. Generally, there would be more layers further down on the limb and fewer layers higher up, creating graded pressure that helps fluid move up and out of the arm. The bandages should feel snug but not tight.

Bandaging is also an option for lymphedema of the chest or trunk, as short-stretch bandages come in all sizes. Bandaging is a reductive therapy, meaning it makes the limb smaller. When your arm is bandaged, your muscles are "held in" by the multi-layer soft cast every time you use your arm. This is known as working pressure. When you do any prescribed exercises with the bandages on, or simply use your arm as for normal activities, this working pressure creates an internal pumping action that moves fluid out of the tissues and into vessels of the lymphatic system. The bandage cast helps prevent fluid from flowing back into the limb, and it also softens the tissue under the skin. This is why bandages are an important treatment for lymphedema that is causing moderate to severe swelling and/or soft tissue changes.

It is recommended to work with a certified lymphedema specialist to create a tailored plan to treat and manage your lymphedema. We have several certified lymphedema specialists on our Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness team. Our therapists will work with you to address any problem areas and our certified compression garment fitter, Kristen, can create custom compression wear to help you improve your condition and mobility.

To schedule a free consultation, call a RNHW team member at 713-623-4247 today!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What you need to know about BRCA gene testing

What is BRCA gene testing?
Everyone has BRCA genes that produce tumor-suppressing proteins. But risky BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations leave a person more susceptible to cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers. BRCA testing is used to determine whether a person has such a mutation, which can be inherited from either parent. Each child of a parent who has a mutation in one of these genes has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation.

What does the test entail?
BRCA gene mutations are detectable through DNA from a blood or saliva sample. It usually takes about a month to get results once your sample is sent to a lab for analysis.

What does a positive result mean?
A woman's lifetime risk of developing cancer is “greatly increased,” if she has a harmful BRCA mutation, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer at some point compared with up to 65 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation. Other cancers are linked to mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, including fallopian tube, abdominal and pancreatic cancers. Men with harmful BRCA gene mutations face higher risk of prostate cancer.

How common are high-risk BRCA gene mutations?
The likelihood of carrying a BRCA gene mutation is extremely low for people with no family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Only about 10 percent of all breast cancers and 15 percent of all ovarian cancers can be traced back to inherited genetic mutations.

Who should take the test?
Because BRCA gene mutations are relatively rare, many doctors agree only those who have specific family patterns of cancer should consider the test. Such patterns include having multiple family members who have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, especially at a young age; cases of male breast cancer; and two or more cancers in one family member.

For anyone thinking about such testing, experts strongly recommend genetic counseling by someone who is experienced in cancer genetics. Counseling can help assess the need for testing in the first place, as well as facilitate discussion about what kinds of decisions a person faces once she gets her results.

What kinds of decisions should you be prepared to make?
A person who finds out she has a BRCA gene mutation faces some difficult decisions. Some women choose enhanced cancer screening, beginning with regular mammograms in their 20s, for example. Others choose risk-reducing surgeries like mastectomies or the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. People also consider chemo-prevention regimens of drugs and vitamins to delay or reduce cancer risk. Finding out you have a harmful BRCA mutation indicates a higher risk for your siblings, too, so what you learn can affect multiple family members.

How much does it cost?
Some insurance companies cover BRCA testing, which can range in cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The National Cancer Institute urges people to contact their insurance companies to discuss cost before getting the test. For those without insurance, some genetic testing companies offer free or discounted pricing for individuals who meet certain medical or financial eligibility standards.

Who can help?
There are myriad resources for people considering BRCA gene testing, including the Cancer Information Service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and many nonprofit organizations. Live and anonymous online chatting is available from the NIH weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET (5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT at http://livehelp.cancer.gov. You can also call 1-800-4-CANCER.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair

1. Salmon
Besides being rich in protein and vitamin D (both are key to strong hair) the omega-3 fatty acids found in this tasty cold-water fish are the true superstar. Your body can't make those fatty acids, which your body needs to grow hair. Omega-3s are also found in cell membranes in the skin of your scalp, and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.
Other options: If salmon doesn't thrill you, you can also get essential fatty acids from fish like herring, sardines, trout, and mackerel, as well as avocado, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts (see below for more wonderful things about walnuts.)

2. Walnuts
These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They're also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage.
Other options: Try using walnut oil in your salad dressing or stir-fry instead of canola or safflower.

3. Oysters
Oysters are rich in zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss (even in your eyelashes), as well as a dry, flaky scalp. Three ounces has a whopping 493% of your daily value. You can get some zinc through fortified cereals and whole grain breads, but oysters can boast a good level of protein too.
Other options: Get your fill of zinc with nuts, beef, and eggs.

4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp, and being low on vitamin A can even leave you with itchy, irksome dandruff.
Other options: Carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, and apricots are all good sources of beta carotene.

5. Eggs
A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron (anemia) is a major cause of hair loss, particularly in women.
Other options: You can also boost your iron stores with animal sources, including chicken, fish, pork, and beef.

6. Spinach
The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.
Other options: Try similarly nutrient-rich dark, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard.

7. Lentils
Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.
Other options: Toss other beans such as soybeans (the young ones are called edamame) and kidney beans into your soup or salad.

8. Greek yogurt
Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid -- an ingredient you'll often see on hair care product labels), and vitamin D. Emerging research links vitamin D and hair follicle health.
Other options: Cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, and skim milk also fit the bill.

9. Blueberries
Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C. C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.
Other options: Kiwis, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries.

10. Poultry
This everyday entree is extraordinary when it comes to protein, as well as hair-healthy zinc, iron, and B vitamins to keep strands strong and plentiful.
Other options: Lean cuts of beef are another good source of lean protein.

Looking for other tips or products for healthy hair?  Contact our Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness team at 713-623-4247, and we'd be more than happy to help you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Scientists A Step Closer to Treating Baldness

Scientists have moved a step closer to finding a treatment for baldness in men and women with the discovery that it is possible to grow new hair follicles from human skin cells. The new test results are the first breakthrough in 40 years of research into finding a way to regenerate the structures in the skin that cause hair to grow and could lead to radically different therapies for hair loss. Scientists have struggled for decades to to replicate human hair follicles in the laboratory, but the new techniques prove they can be stimulated to grow in skin tissue and made to produce hair shafts.

The researchers claim that instead of the current method of transplanting hair from another part of the body, patients' own skin could be used to produce an essentially never-ending supply of hair follicles for transplant operations.

One of the study's lead authors, Professor Angela Christiano of Columbia University said, "This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss. Current hair-loss medications tend to slow the loss of hair follicles or potentially stimulate the growth of existing hairs, but they do not create new hair follicles. Neither do conventional hair transplants...Our method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using patient's own cells."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fight Breast Cancer with Food

Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage . . . these veggies aren’t at the top of many people’s favorite foods lists. Many children hate them, most adults aren’t fans, and some people find that these foods have an unpleasant odor and bitter flavor. But because these types of vegetables, known as cruciferous vegetables, are so good for your health—and can play an important role in fighting breast cancer—they are worth a second chance.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a physician and New York Times best-selling author who is a renowned expert in nutrition, writes on his website that “Eating a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables is your best defense for fighting and preventing cancer.” Why? Fuhrman’s studies have demonstrated that cruciferous vegetables are twice as effective as other vegetables, beans, and fruits at reducing cancer rates.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the substances that give cruciferous veggies their sulfur scent and sometimes bitter taste are plant compounds known as glucosinolates, which are a current focus of anticancer research. Glucosinolates have been effective at treating cancer in animal and cellular studies, and current research is looking at their effectiveness in treating cancer in humans. Cruciferous veggies are also high in other key nutrients:
•vitamins C, E, and K
•beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, known as carotenoids

In addition to broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, the cruciferous vegetable family includes salad superstars arugula, radishes, and watercress; dark leafy greens like kale, collards, and mustard greens; zingy, flavorful horseradish and wasabi; and root vegetables such as turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabi.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walk to Support Breast Cancer Awareness!

Join us for a day of fun for the whole family as we attend the Fifth Annual "Celebrate Your Princess" Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in Fulshear, TX on Saturday October 26th!

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States, aside from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year. Today there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States. Early detection and prevention are critical. Celebrate Your Princess benefits the CHRISTUS St. Catherine Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, promoting community outreach, health, wellness and education.

We will be showcasing our latest and greatest hair loss, mastectomy and lymphedema solutions and will be available to answer any questions about our products and services.

Join us:

Saturday, October 26, 2013 @ 7:30 AM
Cross Creek Ranch
6450 Cross Creek Bend Lane
Fulshear , TX 77441

You can still sign up for the walk online, or registration is available the day of the walk at the event.

Walk for the cause, enjoy music and food while the kids play in the kid's zone bounce house, decorate pumpkins and much more!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tips For Lymphedema Skin Care

The treatment of lymphedema often focuses on controlling the swelling and on avoiding further injury to lymph vessels. This is why many patients with lymphedema know about lymphedema pumps and about the need to avoid tight clothing and compression, such as blood pressure cuffs. But excellent skin care is also an important part of lymphedema treatment. The central reason skin care is important in lymphedema is to avoid infection.

The following are several useful tips that can help lymphedema patients take better care of their skin: Use a moisturizer – Daily use of a moisturizing lotion is very important in keeping the skin elastic and healthy. We usually recommend that lymphedema patients use lotion twice a day all around the affected limb. Avoid using lotion between the toes because that could promote a fungal infection (“athlete’s foot”). Examples of moisturizing creams are Amlactin and Eucerin.

Avoid injury – The main hazard with lymphedema is skin infection. Skin injury is a way for infection to enter the body. Avoiding injury means avoiding infection. Sources of injury are all around. A common example is shaving your legs with a razor. Patients with lymphedema should use an electric mechanism.

Think about toenail hygiene – As can be seen in the picture patients with leg lymphedema may have nail changes. The toenails may thicken. Having a podiatrist take care of your toes can help you avoid much grief from accidental injury. Remember – avoid injury!

Examine your feet every day – Most people do not look at their feet. At least not every day. But foot examination can be critical in lymphedema patients. By examining your feet or having someone examine your feet every day you will find problems very early as they come and avoid severe problems from developing.

If you have questions about skin care for your lymphedema, call the Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness team at 713-623-4247, and speak with our BOC/ABC certified custom garment fitter, or one of our certified lymphedema massage therapists. We would be happy to help you find answers to your important questions!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss

What is hair loss and how is chemotherapy related?
  • Believe it or not, hair loss (alopecia) due to chemotherapy is one of the most distressing side effects of chemo treatments.  
  • Hair loss happens because the chemotherapy affects all cells in the body, not just the cancer cells.  The lining of the mouth, stomach, and the hair follicles are especially sensitive because those cells multiply rapidly just like the cancer cells. The difference is that the normal cells will repair themselves, making these side effects temporary. 
  • Hair loss does not occur with all chemotherapy.  Whether or not your hair remains as it is, thins or falls out, depends on the drugs and dosages.  
  • Hair loss may occur as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, although it may not happen until after the second cycle of chemotherapy.  
  • Hair loss can be sudden or slow.  
  • You may lose all of your hair or just some of it.  
  • Often it comes out in clumps rather than an even pattern.  
  • It is common for hair loss to include hair that grows anywhere including eyelashes, eyebrows, and even pubic hair.

In almost all cases of chemotherapy-induced hair loss, your hair will resume growth after treatments.  
  • It may take from three to six months after therapy is completed or it may start growing back while you are still receiving chemotherapy.  Be prepared for your "new" hair to possibly have a slightly different color, texture, or curl.

Can you prevent hair loss during chemo treatments?
  • Through the years, attempts have been made to reduce hair loss by using tight bands or ice caps.  While these techniques may reduce hair loss by reducing blood flow to the scalp and limiting chemotherapy exposure to hair follicles, there is a theoretical concern that this could reduce the effectiveness of treatment in that area. 

What can be done to manage hair loss due to chemotherapy?

Our dedicated RNHW team will help guide you through your hair loss by:

  • educating you about the effects of chemotherapy and when to expect hair loss to occur 
  • verifying and billing your insurance 
  • assisting you in choosing the right cranial prosthesis for your lifestyle prepping your new hair for delivery serving as your extended support system throughout the whole process.

When a client is faced chemotherapy hair loss, we ask them to immediately come in with their cranial prosthesis prescription before chemotherapy treatment begins, for a complimentary consultation.  During this consultation we will discuss all of your options to help you stay confident during your temporary hair loss.

We will then educate you about the different types of wigs (human hair wigs and synthetic hair wigs) and help you decide what hair loss solution will work best for you to give you the most realistic duplication of your natural hair.

All of our consultation rooms are private and are equipped with the best salon hair styling equipment available.  A team member will explain the process of when hair loss will begin and most importantly when your natural hair will regrow.

At RNHW, we carry an extensive line of human hair and synthetic wigs and hairpieces for your chemotherapy hair loss solutions.  We also have many turbans, scarves and hats in stock to suit your fashion style.  Do you have questions?  Call a RNHW  team member, or schedule a free consultation at 713-623-4247.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Extensiveness of breast cancer surgery linked to risk of lymphedema

Breast cancer survivors who have extensive surgery are four times more likely to develop arm lymphedema. According to a new study, the extensiveness of surgery to treat breast cancer proportionately increases the risk of developing the debilitating disorder.

According to the lead author, Tracey DiSipio, PhD, from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, women who had undergone an axillary lymph node dissection, which is an invasive surgery to remove lymph nodes under the arm, were four times more likely to experience swollen or disfigured arms compared with women who had received a sentinel lymph node biopsy. The study was published in The Lancet Oncology.

"Arm lymphedema is typically characterized by swelling in one or both arms, causing pain, heaviness, tightness, and a decreased range of motion," DiSipio said. "The appearance of the swollen or disfigured arms provides an ever-present reminder of breast cancer and often contributes to anxiety, depression, and emotional distress in affected women."

DiSipio said the study, a systematic review of the incidence of arm lymphedema after breast cancer, also found that the condition is diagnosed in one in five women (21.4%). She explained, "This is a significant research finding and provides us with the most accurate incidence rate to date. Until now the incidence rate has been reported as anywhere from 0% to 94%. With this information we can explore whether lymphedema rates differ between breast cancer survivors."

The study also pinpointed a number of risk factors linked to arm lymphedema. Risk increased with a lack of regular physical activity and with a high body mass index. DiSipio said, "These factors are potential targets for future prevention strategies or for more effective management of the disorder."

DiSipio said the results of the study added weight to calls to integrate prospective surveillance of arm lymphedema into standard breast cancer care.

"Currently there are no standardized practices when it comes to detection and treatment of arm lymphedema," she said. "Given most patients present with the arm lymphedema within the first 2 years after breast cancer, more frequent surveillance throughout this time is recommended."

If you or a loved one is undergoing breast cancer treatment, call 713-623-4247 to schedule a free consultation with our ABC/BOC certified compression garment and mastectomy prosthesis fitter.  Kristen and our team will develop a customized approach to helping you maintain your mobility and comfort during and after your cancer treatment.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Look Good, Feel Better!

Our world-renowned hair stylist and cosmetologist, Ricky Knowles, will be teaching women undergoing cancer treatment tips and beauty techniques to manage the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on October 14th at MD Anderson - Clear Lake and on October 16th at Memorial Hermann - The Medical Center.

The Look Good...Feel Better program is offered in partnership with the American Cancer Society and is free of charge.

Ricky will teach attendees make up enhancement techniques, educate women about wigs, hairpieces and skin care and show them how to wear head scarves and turbans.  The presentation will be hands-on with plenty of time for questions.  Each woman gets a free makeup kit to use during and after the workshop.

If you or a loved one is undergoing cancer treatment, register for the free seminar and get an opportunity to visit one-on-one with Ricky and learn his secrets to Looking Good, and Feeling Better! For more information, or to register for one of these events, call the American Cancer Society Houston Office at (713) 266-2877.

Early Detection & Breast Health Tips

1. Early Breast Cancer Detection – Experts recommend women get to know their own bodies: report any changes in your breast to your medical provider right away and talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer and when to be screened. Medical experts also recommend:

  • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year 
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of their periodic health exam by a health professional, preferably every three years 
  • Breast self exam: Experts now recommend that women get to know their own bodies and watch for any changes. BSE is an option for women starting in their 20s. You should report any changes in your breast health to your doctor right away. 

2. Reduce Your Risk – Here are some suggestions to help reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  • Examine your family history – Your risk is increased if a family member has had breast cancer, especially if a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) is diagnosed before the age of 50. Speak with a nurse, doctor or your medical provider about your breast cancer risk and additional steps you can take to reduce your risk. 
  • Get some exercise– Brisk walking for one hour a day can your reduce risk by more than 15%. The American Cancer Society recommends you engage in at least 45 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. 
  • Minimize radiation exposure – The human breast is sensitive to radiation, especially if exposure occurs at young ages. Girls repeatedly exposed to radiation before the age of 20 are at highest risk for developing breast cancer later in life. 
  • Modify alcohol intake – Regular consumption of one drink a day for women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. 
  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke – Tobacco smoke is a known human carcinogen and is an established risk factor for lung cancer. Exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke should be avoided, particularly during childhood, puberty, pregnancy and when breast feeding. 
  • Avoid exposures to exogenous estrogens 
    • Hormone replacement therapy – Use only if absolutely necessary; use for as short a time as possible, and discuss alternatives with your doctor. 
    • Hormonally active environmental chemicals – Some studies suggest chemicals in our homes, water and environment may play a role in cancer development. 
  • Maintain leanness or reduce weight – The relationship between being overweight and breast cancer risk is one of the best understood to date. It is known that women who gain more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of breast cancer (postmenopausal) compared to women whose weight remains stable. 

3. Lymphedema – Lymphedema is a chronic, debilitating disorder following cancer treatment that can cause arm swelling and chronic inflammation. There are new advances and recommendations for women diagnosed with breast cancer:

  • Newly diagnosed women should ask their doctor for a perometry screen or BIS (bioimpedance spectroscopy) screen before they have breast cancer surgery and at regular follow-up visits. Survivors who have already undergone surgery should ask their doctor if BIS or perometry might be helpful in their ongoing care. 
  • Exercise and weight training have been shown to help reduce the risk of lymphedema and to reduce the severity of the disorder in already affected patients. Women should discuss exercise and weight-lifting regimens with their doctor or a well-trained or certified lymphedema therapist. 

4. Nutrition – Nutrition plays an important role in your health.

5. Know Your Resources –Don't overlook your own breast health. Survival rates increase dramatically in women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer early. If you are living in a low-income household, or are underinsured or uninsured, there are many resources available, regardless of your ability to pay, that can help you seek out the proper breast care:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers an online search tool for women to seek out free and low-cost screenings across the country. 
  • For information on breast cancer and tools to help you seek out medical care, visit the American Cancer Society's website at www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/index

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trichotillomania - Spotlight on Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness Client: Emily Simmons

At the age of eight, Emily Simmons began pulling out her hair. What started with just one or two hairs at a time turned into whole patches of hair being removed from her head. Her journey over the past six years has led her to become one of the foremost young spokespeople for trich sufferers, even appearing in MTV's True Life.

Through psychotherapy, distraction strategies, support groups and the dedication our Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness team, Emily's hair has grown out and we are so proud of her significant progress and continue to be a part of her ongoing treatment.

Below is a video of Emily describing her experience with the RNHW team:

Our goal at RNHW is to help give our trich clients the self confidence they need to overcome the disease. We use all types of hair replacement options including: wigs, hair pieces, hair extensions, clip-ons, micro links and bonding. Each trich solution is tailored to the individual client and we use creative techniques to arm our trich clients with the courage to conquer the world.

Since often trich sufferers have not visited a hair stylist in years, our salon is open to anyone with trich whether you want hair replacement or just want a cut, color or style. All of our consultation rooms are private. If you or a loved one suffers from Trich and have questions or want to schedule an appointment to discuss options, call 713-623-4247.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1-7 is National Trichotillomania Awareness Week

Did you know that over 100 million women worldwide feel the urge to pull their hair out?
A shocking three percent of the world's population will suffer from Trichotillomania (TTM) at some point in their lives but the vast majority of us have never heard of it.

TTM Facts:
110 million people suffer from TTM worldwide
Less than 10% of women seek treatment
It is more common in females
50% report pulling is worse when under stress

So why do so many feel the need to pull out their hair?
The majority of TTM sufferers pull to serve as a coping mechanism for anxiety and other difficult emotions, and it is often done sub-consciously. What starts as a small habit can escalate dramatically and can sometimes result in complete loss of hair.

If you suffer from TTM and need help now then please call the Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness Team at 713-623-4247. Our team is has created a safe and comfortable environment to assist you in your path to recovery.

All of our consultation rooms are private and equipped with the most advanced hair styling, duplication and replacement tools available. And our world-renowned hair duplication stylist, Ricky Knowles has been recognized as an advocate by the Trichotillomania Learning Center, Inc.

We strive to be a part of your recovery, working in tandem with you to boost your confidence and help you reach your goal to stop hair pulling.  We will tailor a hair duplication plan to enable you to cover bald spots while your new hair grows out.  Our trich hair replacement process allows our clients to take the steps necessary to return to a normal, confident life.

Have Questions about Trich? Email Ricky at ricky@hairandwellness.com.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Am Going Through Chemotherapy Treatment and My Eyebrows and Eyelashes are Falling Out. How Can You Help?

For many women, losing the hair on their heads is one of the most emotionally difficult parts of the cancer-treatment process. But thinning brows and eyelashes-even more than missing locks-can signal an illness to others, and their absence is a lot harder to disguise.

The good news is that women are less likely to lose lashes and brows than the hair on their heads because brows and lashes have different durations of hair growth cycles, which make them less susceptible to the effect of chemotherapy.

At Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness, we can help you experiment with false eyelashes, eyebrow stencils, and eyeliner.

Here are a few tips:

False lashes can be worn for special occasions. Try a hypoallergenic adhesive. Since they can often look too long, trim false lashes to about a third of an inch to mimic natural lashes. You can also line the outer rim of your upper and lower lids with waterproof eyeliner, then trace over it with matching powder to add texture. Never reuse the same lashes as the adhesive can build with bacteria.

Eyebrow stencils, which come in many shapes and sizes, can help you re-create a thicker brow line that looks very natural, as opposed to just using an eyebrow pencil that can look harsh and artificial. The Lizette Eyebrow Makeup Kit is a great kit for creating flawless eyebrows. It consists of water resistant pressed shadow, six different stencils and an applicator brush that comes in a beautiful black compact case with two sides to be opened, one for the powder and the other side for the brush and the mirror. Lizette Eyebrow Makeup comes in various shades to match your natural hair color.

If you suffer from thinning brows and eyelashes, call the Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness Team at 713-623-4247. Let us help you Look Better and Feel Better.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lymphedema Best Managed Through Exercise and Complete Decongestive Therapy

From Oncology Nurse Advisor

Self-care is an essential part of treating patients with lymphedema, with full-body exercise and complete decongestive therapy being the best ways to minimize symptoms and maintain quality of life.

Nearly 40% of breast cancer survivors suffer from lymphedema, which is a chronic condition that causes body limbs to swell from fluid buildup. It is a result of lymph node removal and radiation therapy. No cure exists, so patients with the condition must find ways to manage the symptoms throughout their lifetimes.

The research team reviewed published literature about lymphedema self-management to determine which practices were most effective in managing the condition. Full-body exercise, such as weight lifting and stretching, was found likely to be effective in minimizing lymphedema symptoms. Additionally, complete decongestive therapy, which is a comprehensive treatment that incorporates skin care, exercise, manual lymphatic drainage and bandaging of swollen limbs, also helps patients to effectively manage the condition.

“There's a sense of empowerment—of autonomy—that comes from meeting the challenge of living with lymphedema,” said Jane Armer, PhD, RN, RAAN, nursing professor at University of Missouri and an author of the studies. “Some breast cancer survivors say that they've become a new person after cancer because they met a challenge, and they like the stronger person they've become. The challenge of lymphedema is similar. It's something that is pervasive in every part of life. It takes problem solving and persistence to manage the condition without letting it interfere with their goals.”

Dr. Armer added, “Previous research suggests that, the earlier the interventions, the better the outcomes. If patients can learn how to successfully manage the condition early on, then they can continue those processes throughout their lives, and their outcomes will be better than those of [persons] who resist participating in self-care.”

Our team at Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness is ready to assist you in managing your lymphedema.  We have a certified compression garment fitter who will trouble shoot and create a custom tailored plan to best treat and manage your lymphedema.  We also have certified massage therapists and treatment specialists who can assist you with MLD and limb bandaging.  Call us today at 713-623-4247 and set up a free consultation!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Women with Breast Cancer Benefit from Personal Website Sharing

Developing and using a personal website to chronicle their experience and communicate with others improves psychological and cancer-specific adjustment in women being treated for breast cancer, according to research published online Aug. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Annette L. Stanton, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues randomly assigned 88 women diagnosed with breast cancer to participation in Project Connect Online or a waiting-list control group. The intervention consisted of a three-hour workshop to create a personal website and a follow-up call to encourage its use.

The researchers found that, six months later, women in the intervention group showed significant benefit in depressive symptoms, positive mood, and life appreciation compared with women in the control group. No benefit was observed in negative mood, perceived strengthened relationships, or intrusive thoughts. Among women participating in the online intervention, those who were currently undergoing treatment for cancer showed significantly greater benefit in depressive symptoms and positive mood than those not receiving treatment.

"To our knowledge, ours is the first research to evaluate an intervention to teach patients with cancer personal website development," the authors write. "Findings suggest the promise of an intervention to facilitate the ability of women diagnosed with breast cancer to chronicle their experience and communicate with their social network via the Internet."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blood Test May Allow for Early Diagnosis of Lymphedema

From Oncology Nurse Advisor

Levels of a set of proteins circulating in the blood may accurately flag the presence of lymphedema, which currently is difficult to diagnose before the onset of physical symptoms.

At present, the only known way to diagnose lymphedema, an often painful inflammatory condition caused by radiation therapy for cancer, is by means of physical inspection. But by the time the main symptom of swelling of one or more limbs is detectable, the condition may be difficult or impossible to reverse with available treatment options, explained Stanley G. Rockson, MD, senior author of the study describing the new blood test, in a statement from Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. Rockson is a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Noting that the biological events underlying lymphedema may be present for 5 years or more before physical symptoms indicate the presence of the disease, Rockson's group studied skin-biopsy samples from 63 persons with lymphedema and 27 healthy subjects in an attempt to discover protein analytes that could distinguish diseased tissue from healthy tissue. The researchers focused on genes that were more actively engaged in the generation of their respective protein products in lymphedema vs healthy tissue, eventually narrowing the field to six overproduced proteins through statistical modeling.

Each of the six proteins is associated with at least one of the hallmark features of chronic lymphedema: accumulation of fibrous deposits, stimulation of fat-cell activity, inflammation, and lymphatic-vessel formation. Although none of the six proteins alone was predictive of lymphedema, in aggregate their presence at certain levels and in certain ratios appeared to serve as a biomarker for the condition.

Because levels of these proteins rise early in the course of lymphedema, the biomarker panel could lead to earlier identification of lymphedema risk or onset and earlier treatment that might ease the effects of the condition or even reverse its course.

When Rockson's team evaluated the validity of the biomarker panel using blood samples from an additional cohort of 36 adults with lymphedema and 15 healthy adults, the test was nearly 90% accurate in distinguishing persons with lymphedema from healthy subjects.

If you are a cancer survivor, or are currently undergoing cancer treatment and need help with lymphedema treatment, custom compression garments or lymphedema support groups, contact our team at Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness at 713-623-4247 and schedule a free consultation.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tamoxifen Halves Breast Cancer Risk in High-Risk Women

Tamoxifen halves breast cancer risk in high-risk women A global study of women with inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 found that tamoxifen could halve the risk for breast cancer in the contralateral (opposite-side) breast in these high-risk women.

Tamoxifen has been used for decades to treat breast cancer and has recently been shown to prevent breast cancers in many women. Until now, there has been limited information about whether it reduces breast cancer risk for women who are at the very highest level of risk with BRCA1 or BRCA2.

This study, led by the University of Melbourne and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia, involved about 2,500 women from Europe, North America, and Australia who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 and who have been diagnosed with breast cancer since 1970. About one-third of these women were placed on tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen was taken by 24% of the 1,583 BRCA1 and by 52% of the BRCA2 mutation carriers after their first breast cancer diagnosis. Over 20,104 person-years of observation, 520 contralateral breast cancers occurred. The statistical analysis of 657 BRCA1 and 426 BRCA2 mutation carriers with 100 contralateral breast cancers found an adjusted hazard ratio estimate of 0.58 for BRCA1 carriers and 0.48 for BRCA2 carriers. This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"In the past, the only way of reducing breast cancer risk for these high-risk women was to do invasive surgery to remove their breasts and/or ovaries. For women who choose not to undergo such surgery, or who would prefer to delay surgery until they are older, tamoxifen could now be a viable alternative," said the lead author, Kelly-Anne Phillips, MD, of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Her previous research had found that only one in five Australian women with a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 chose to undergo bilateral mastectomy to prevent cancer.

Co-author John Hopper, PhD, of the University of Melbourne, said, "In light of our findings, it is clear that women who have a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 should review their management plan with their specialist and re-discuss the options available to them to lower that risk."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vibration Exercise Improves Your Lymphatic Health

With every beat of the heart, subtle vibrations are sent through the body, the movement stimulating a higher degree of circulation and a higher level of overall health. Because this movement is conducive to achieving a healthier circulatory system, among others, it has been recreated throughout the cultures and ages of history in an attempt to heal illnesses and improve the overall quality of life. A practice that has been utilized for thousands of years, vibration exercise is said to amplify the effects of the vibrations made each time the heart beats. These vibrations produce a level of blood flow that is uninterrupted, allowing oxygen and other important substances to circulate freely. By constantly pumping blood through the many systems of the body, the modern vibration exercise machine also promotes the drainage of the lymphatic system, which acts as a network of pipes that pushes toxins out of the body.

Moving the various fluids of the body requires power, which is only achieved through muscle contractions (such as the contraction of the heart when it pumps). The vibrations created by a vibration exercise machine create small muscular contractions. This forces the fluids through the body in a way that is efficient, constant, and gentle enough not to cause any harm while being forceful enough to discard toxins and other potentially dangerous buildup.

Individuals that cannot get rid of their toxins are more prone to illness and do not feel as healthy as those whose lymphatic systems are capable of draining regularly. Exercise is certainly one way to achieve a high level of lymphatic draining, but not everyone has the ability (either physically or practically) to indulge in a great deal of physical activity. For this reason, whole body vibration, facilitated by a machine, is able to help combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and rid the body of the toxins that it has stored. This being said, individuals that don't have time for extensive exercise can greatly benefit from whole body vibration.

In addition to acting as a catalyst for lymphatic drainage, a vibration exercise machine also sparks the activity of the lymph nodes, which are key components of the immune system. Therefore, the movement allows individuals to both rid their bodies of toxins that they already possess and prevent them from contracting illnesses from new ones.

Another benefit, which many individuals enjoy, is weight loss. Though the loss is not drastic, using a vibration exercise machine allows the lymphatic system to push stored fats out of the body, resulting in a healthier, leaner figure. This smaller figure can also be attributed to the decrease in cortisol, which is a known agent of belly fat, due to an increase in serotonin.

The benefits of vibration exercise, particularly to the lymphatic system, have been enjoyed by people from several cultures over thousands of years. Modern medicine will most likely continue to study this technique and analyze its many effects on the body, but as the research is conducted individuals will continue to utilize the therapy and take advantage of their healthier circulatory and lymphatic systems.

Have questions about Lymphedema or need to schedule a free consultation with our custom compression garment fitter?  Email Kristen at kristen@hairandwellness.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I have Alopecia and am constantly running from place to place with my busy schedule. Do you have an hair loss solution for me?

Alopecia Areata (AA) is a condition affecting humans, in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp. Because it causes bald spots on the scalp, especially in the first stages, it is sometimes called "spot baldness." In 1%–5% of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp (Alopecia Totalis) or to the entire body (Alopecia Universalis). The different types of Alopecia do not discriminate and affect men, women, and children all over the world.

Unfortunately there is no cure for Alopecia but there are treatments that work on a temporary basis. The most popular treatment method requires painful injections into the bald areas. Although this may help the injected area, hair loss may occur in other untreated areas. For many suffering with Alopecia treatments like injections can become too painful and expensive to continue treatment.

Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness offers several cover up options including wigs, hair pieces and other products. There is no need to worry about damaging the hair or slowing the re-growth by using our products.

We use specially designed hair replacements proven to cover or camouflage the bald areas without causing excess damage or future problems for your scalp. Our staff has years of experience working with women, men, and children that have been diagnosed with Alopecia. We have taken that experience and combined it with the most advanced technology in hair replacement. This means we can offer the most comfortable and realistic hair loss solutions available.

Watch our client Judy talk about the hair loss solution that our RNHW team customized for her busy schedule.

Contact us at 713-623-4247 to see what our skilled and compassionate staff can do to help restore hair and your confidence.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What is the Difference Between Ready-Wear and Custom Compression Garments?

After a lymphedema diagnosis, it is imperative that you get measured by a certified compression garment fitter. Although there are compression garment shops who claim that they can fit you for a garment, be sure that the fitter has the specialized training necessary to fit you properly in the appropriate garment. Ill fitting garments can cause major setbacks in your progress towards maintaining the condition.

One major difference between ready-wear and custom compression garments is that ready-wear, or off the shelf garments, are made of lesser quality materials which include lycra or rubber. Custom compression garments use silicone and silk offering more comfort while wearing the garments.

Since ready-wear garments are available over the counter, they are tend to be less expensive, easier to replace and quicker to purchase. They are seamless and are available in a variety of lengths, compression classes and sizes, however, they may not provide enough support for your affected limbs and are not as precise in fit as a custom made garment. They also have a tendency to roll at the top of the garment.

With custom made compression garments, precise measurements are taken to ensure that your garment fits properly throughout your whole limb. They are generally made from thicker but more breathable materials. And offer better containment of the swelling than ready-wear garments. These garments can be made to accommodate any shape which is particularly helpful if a client has a disproportionate limb.

Custom made compression garments are are available in all four compression classes and can be combined with a custom toe cap if necessary. With custom compression garments, pads for extra support can be stitched into the garment as well.

The heavier knit materials provide greater stiffness resulting in greater resistance and better containment of the swelling than ready-made garments (so-called stiffness factor).

To schedule your free consultation with our BOC/ABC certified garment fitter, call 713-623-4247. Kristen can answer any questions you have about compression garments and assist you in maintaining your lymphedema.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I have experienced men's hair loss ever since my late 20s. Is there an undetectable hairpiece for men?

For many of us there comes a time in our lives when we stand in the mirror and ask "why me?"

Unfortunately for most of us it happens during a very impressionable time in our lives -- out of school, building a career, and trying to find that perfect someone special. Losing your hair can be very devastating and its effects have been known to diminish the self confidence of men from the beginning of time.

At Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness our goal is to rebuild your confidence by re-creating the look you
thought was gone forever.

Ricky Knowles is a world famous educator and platform artist in the hair restoration field. Ricky has spent countless years searching the globe for the most advanced procedures and products available. After years of searching, Ricky was fortunate enough to find the NEXT Generation in hair replacement.

"NXT GEN" as it is known is the most life-like, undetectable hair replacement solution available in the world. "NXT GEN" appears so natural it has even been mistaken for the best transplants money can buy! Although many companies claim to offer "NXT GEN" Technology, not many understand or have come close to mastering the ART of "NXT GEN." With Ricky Knowles you can rest assured you are getting the best the world has to offer.

If you're single and wanting to change you appearance, or you are married and just want to feel younger, Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness has a solution for you. From Hair Loss Inhibitors to human hair replication, at Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness we have mastered the technology to deliver you the results of your dreams!

The Original NXT GENERATION OF HAIR is only available at Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness.

Experience Hair Replacement the way it should be. Call 713-623-4247 today for a free hair loss solution consultation.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I have lymphedema and wear compression hose during the day. Is there an alternative to bandaging at night-time?

Let's face it, managing lymphedema can be a lot of work! Luckily with the awareness of the condition, there has been a lot of advancement in the availability of alternative compression garments.

Night garments, such as JoviPak or Tribute can be described as alternative non-elastic compression garments that are made to replace bandaging in order to improve quality of life by making the process of compressing the limb at night easier and faster to apply. So for clients who are in the management phase of lymphedema therapy, rather than having to set aside the time and energy to self bandage at nighttime, you can simply don a nighttime garment, allowing you to be more compliant in your treatment.

Of course each client is different, but on average a nighttime garment should be worn for around 12 hours. It is important however to be properly fitted by a certified lymphedema therapist and to receive specific guidance on how long or often to wear the garment. 

Our goal at Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness is to help you succeed in your self-care management. If you have questions about what types of compression garments might give you more quality of life, please call us for a free consultation with our BOC/ABC certified compression fitter at 713-623-4247.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Early Baldness May Signal Cancer Risk

Researchers in Australia are suggesting that men who lose their hair early in life are likely to suffer prostate cancer. Research among 10,000 adults uncovered that men with high levels of testosterone, the hormone that can facilitate hair loss, may be more vulnerable to cancerous tumors later in life. Experts at the Cancer Council of Victoria in Australia monitored 9,448 men who were taking part in a long-term health study.

The men, aged between 40 and 69 when the project began were asked to score how much hair they had lost at the age of 20 and at the age of 40. The results showed men who were mostly bald at 40 were significantly more likely to develop early-onset cancer, which for some could be in their fifties or sixties.

Both prostate cancer and hair loss are strongly age-related conditions that are considered to be hormone dependent. They found that baldness at the age of 40 might be a marker of increased risk of early-onset prostate cancer.

If you or a loved one have suffered from early male hair loss, make sure that you get a yearly health examination from your physician. Also speak with your physician about the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test and whether or not you would benefit from the screening.

For more information about hair loss solutions, call 713-623-4247. Our master stylist, Ricky Knowles and his team can help you find the right customized solution to fit your lifestyle.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Am Scheduled To Undergo Mastectomy Surgery. What Are Some Recovery Tips?

Going through mastectomy surgery can be extremely taxing on both your body and your emotions.  Here are some tips to help you when you get home.

Follow Your Doctors Instructions
Follow all your Doctor’s instructions in regards to wound care, rest, lifting restrictions, driving, surgical bras and garments etc.  Most importantly if your Doctor says don’t do something – listen and don’t do it!

When discharged from hospital ask all your questions (to Doctors and Nurses) no matter how insignificant you may think they are and have contact numbers for when you get home and have another question or concern.

Rest, Rest and then Rest Some More
Take it totally easy the first full week.  Take multiple naps, watch movies, read books and relax.  Have people do almost everything for you to avoid overdoing it.  Be warned it is super easy to overdo it when you first get home.  Even opening the fridge, opening drawers, picking up stuff and carrying laundry is too much!  Also washing your hair is too much in the first week as you can’t lift your arms so book into the hairdressers.  If you do too much you will pay for it that night and the next day with muscle pain and a very sore body.

Fatigue is normal.  Gradually increase your activity and ease back into your ‘normal’ routine.  Remember most women require four to six weeks off work to recover.  A mastectomy is a major invasive surgery and body tissues need rest to recover and repair from the procedure.  By over doing it you are slowing down your recovery and healing.

Remember no strenuous activity or lifting for approximately six weeks following your surgery (your Doctor will tell you when you are ready).

Medication and Pain Control
Get all your scripts filled immediately (with non child proof caps – you will find the push down and turn type difficult to open with limited arm strength) and in a notebook write down what you take and when.  It is easy to lose track of whether you have taken your medication or not and writing it down ensures you have and have taken it at the right time (and haven’t taken a double dose).  Writing down your pain medication is also useful as it allows you to slowly reduce the amount and strength over a few weeks.   

When it comes to pain management take your pain medication regularly.  The job of the medicine is to avoid pain.  If you get in too much pain you will feel miserable waiting for the pain medication to kick in.  Also studies have shown that a patient who has less pain recovers better.

Medical Supplies
It is useful to have the following at home:
  • Laxatives as the pain medications/general aesthetic can make you constipated
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Post scar treatment (although you won’t need this until your tape/bandages have been removed)
  • Spare dressings (although in some cases you won’t need these as your Surgeon will remove your tape/dressings at your first follow up appointment)
You will most likely need to sleep on your back for at least three or four weeks (definitely the case if you have had a double mastectomy).  This is actually harder than it sounds if you are used to sleeping on your stomach or side and getting sleep is really important for your recovery (and feeling rested and able to cope in general).

Follow your Surgeon’s instructions regarding exercise.  Usually you will be encouraged to walk and have been doing laps of the hospital.  When you get home walk a bit further each day.  Listen to your body and stop if you get tired or dizzy.  Resume more physically active exercise, running, swimming etc. once your Doctor gives approval and gradually build back up to your pre surgery levels.

It can be frustrating, for example if you were a runner and feel great but still have bruising and swelling and your Surgeon says no running (raising your heart rate/pulse slows down healing) – listen, grit your teeth and DON’T RUN.

Get Comfortable
New clothes may be necessary to accommodate your surgery.  Specialty camisoles are a great option because they provide a light layer that can hold drains.  Many styles have pockets to hold forms and can be worn under your clothing.  You may also opt for a robe that is made with pockets for breast forms or ice packs and also can support the weight of fluid from drains.

You will want to get a prosthesis or breast form around six weeks after surgery.  Typically at this time the swelling will have reduced.  Make sure that you see a BOC or ABC certified fitter.  These certifications ensure that you are fitted properly.  A certified fitter can also help you find a well-fitting bra to act as a good foundation for style and comfort.

Drink Water
It is very important that you drink plenty of water during your mastectomy recovery.  While having surgery, a lot of blood and other fluids are removed from the body and you will have to reinstate these in the days following surgery for getting the best recovery results.

Eat Well
To assist your recovery each a diet rich in nutrients – in other words eat healthy.  For your cells and tissues nutrients are the building blocks and will assist your recovery.  So eat a well balanced diet of to help your body.

Support and Talking to Others
Regardless of your level of support from family and friends, you may find it helpful to talk to others who have gone through a mastectomy.  Talking to others who have gone through the same decision making process and procedure will give first hand understanding and support.  It is a major deal both physically and emotionally to undergo a mastectomy and it helps to connect with other women who have gone through what you are feeling.

You have just come home from major surgery and most likely haven’t finished your reconstruction so be aware that your chest/breasts/body will not look perfect/normal and you still have recovery and further surgery to go – however you have just achieved something amazing so try to be proud of your body.

Our team at Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness is here to support you through your journey.  We can connect you with a support group that fits with your schedule, fit you for a mastectomy prosthesis, help you with with lymphedema preventative care, and serve as your patient advocate by untangling the insurance benefit web.  We have a BOC, ABC mastectomy prosthesis fitter and an insurance specialist on staff.   In addition to mastectomy forms, we also carry post mastectomy products such as camisoles, bras and robes.  If you are ready for us to partner with you, please call us at 713-623-4247.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Treatments Are Available for Lymphedema?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for lymphedema. However, with early intervention and proper treatment, the condition can be controlled and minimized, allowing the individual to lead a full and normal life.

Treatment begins with a physicians referral to a lymphedema trained massage therapist. The therapist performs a thorough evaluation to determine a baseline of the individuals sensation, pain, range of motion, strength, skin integrity, and extent of swelling.

A treatment plan to decrease the swelling and improve the individuals ability to function may include:
  • Lymphatic manual drainage, or MLD, is a specialized lymphatic "massage," to move the extra lymph fluid through intact lymphatics and create new pathways for the lymph fluid to flow.
  • Compression bandaging to reduce swelling.
  • Exercise to improve functioning of the lymphatic system, range of motion, and strength.
  • Establishment of a good skin care program to decrease the chances of infection.
  • Recommendation of a compression garment and instruction for wear and care.
  • Thorough patient education regarding all of the above to promote independence with self-management of lymphedema.
Not all therapists have received special training to treat lymphedema, so it is important to select a therapist that is qualified to treat individuals suffering with the condition. At Ricky Knowles Hair & Wellness, we have several qualified therapists who have been trained and certified to treat lymphedema.  We have a BOC, ABC certified garment fitter, who is constantly troubleshooting to find clients the best solution in compression garments.  Our team would be happy to help you develop a customized plan to help you improve your mobility. Our insurance specialist will even submit your claims and serve as your patient advocate, ensuring that you receive your full insurance benefits.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call 713-623-4247.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What line of hair products do you recommend I use for my wig or hairpiece?

The Ricky Knowles Hair and Wellness team is constantly on the hunt for new products to offer our clients. Only the BEST products survive our rigorous testing.

Aquage is one of our favorite hair styling product lines. We like using Aquage styling products because the shampoos and conditioners are sulfate free and ideal for protecting the quality hair pieces and wigs that we customize for our clients.

Aquage products also ensure the ultimate hold while remaining flexible for both synthetic and natural hair. Since most clients do not have the time to come in for daily shampooing and styling, Aquage ensures that their hair is beautiful during each day of wear, which is especially important for our clients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Our favorite Aquage products are the Sea Extend Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner, Beyond Body Thermal Styler and the Beyond Shine.

We carry the Aquage hair styling product line in-house and prices range from $17 to $40. Call us today at 713-623-4247 for a free hair consultation with Aquage Master, Ricky Knowles.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Just Finished Breast Cancer Treatment, Am I at Risk for Lymphedema?

Women who have undergone breast cancer surgery and/or radiotherapy are particularly at risk for developing lymphedema.  An individual who has had any type of breast cancer surgery or therapy is at risk of developing lymphedema. The National Lymphedema Networks 10 Precautions for Women at Risk of Lymphedema include the following:

  1. Do not ignore any slight increase of swelling in the arm, hand, fingers, neck, or chest. Call your doctor. The sooner treatment begins, the more effective it will be.
  2. Never allow an injection, needle stick, or blood pressure cuff in the affected arm. Breaks in the skin allow infection causing bacteria to enter. Pressure on the arm may damage existing lymphatics.
  3. Avoid heavy lifting with the affected arm. Never carry heavy handbags with over-the-shoulder straps. Be especially careful lifting children and groceries. Do not lift more than 15 pounds at a time as excessive weight lifting can place a burden on the lymphatic system.
  4. Do not wear tight jewelry or elastic bands on the affected arm/hand as these may obstruct the lymphatics.
  5. Avoid injuries to the arm such as cat scratches, cuts, sunburn, insect bites as these may serve as a portal for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
  6. Avoid extreme temperature changes when bathing, washing dishes. Stay out of the sauna and hot tub. Keep the arm protected from the sun. Temperature changes may lead to increased swelling.
  7. Wear gloves while performing gardening or housework. This will prevent any type of minor injury that could result in increased swelling.
  8. Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Light exercise is beneficial.
  9. Wear well-fitted supportive bras that are not too tight and without wires. Avoid a heavy prosthesis. These may put extra pressure on the collarbone and shoulders.
  10. Wear a compression sleeve in airplanes, as the change in pressure may  increase the risk of swelling. Remember to drink plenty of water.

For more information about breast cancer treatment and lymphedema, contact Kristen at 713-623-4247. She is a certified BOC, ABC custom garment fitter and can help you find the right compression garment for your needs.