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Hair stylist designs wigs for chemotherapy patients

By Stephanie M. Book , Staff writer
Lewisville Leader
10/09/2002

Don Seal may be one of the few hair stylists whose work is covered by health insurance.  But those wanting a perm or buzz cut shouldn’t go searching for their insurance cards quite yet.  Seal specializes in preparing wigs for cancer patients. He is the first stylist in Texas whose wigs are covered by Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s HMO Blue. He is the only Dallas-Fort Worth area stylists approved by Cigna, United HealthCare, and one of two providers covered in Aetna policies.

Approval allows cancer patients who suffer hair loss from chemotherapy to receive a wig worth up to $500 with minimal out-of-pocket expense, helping ease their transition back into the workplace and daily life.

Seal, owner of Comfort Wigs, Etc., located at 2410 S. Stemmons Fwy. Suite C in Lewisville, said he started working with wigs for cancer patients almost 10 years ago. But he couldn’t find a good brand of wig and often referred clients to vendors for a better brand of wig.

Several years ago, his brother suffered through cancer and later had Seal cut his wig. Seal said his brother’s disposition changed immediately, encouraging him to work more with cancer patients.

Seal searched for a better brand of synthetic wig and, 2-1/2 years ago, found out insurance networks could approve him. Comfort Wigs, Etc. is now approved by 18 insurance companies and climbing.  Seal received approval from Unicare on Monday.

Seal carries close to 500 wigs at a time in the store. He said he uses mostly synthetic wigs because real hair wigs are too much trouble for the chemotherapy patient to maintain.

“With the synthetic wigs, you don’t have bad-hair days,” he said. “You don’t have to blow dry or curl”.  Seal carries machine-made wigs and those with a monofilament top, a transparent cap to which the hair is attached.

“When you look at the wig, you can see right through it to the scalp, and the hair looks like it is literally growing out of the head,” he said.  “It is amazing and quality. It looks and feels real.” Seal said the wigs come in various styles and lengths. Though 95 percent of all people wear an average size, Seal carries petite and large sizes as well. Wigs cost $90 to $1500.

He said the patient can come to the shop for a visit, look at the hair and figure out what they want, decide the price range or at which price insurance approved them.

The patient can then make another appointment to get the wig fitted and cut while wearing it.  “No cancer survivor forgets how they felt when they lost their hair,” he said. “I work to obtain a completely natural-looking hairstyle and, in many cases, the patient likes the wig as well as their own hair. A high-quality wig almost always elevates the patient’s attitude and self esteem.”

Because Seal is a licensed cosmetologist, he is able to cut the wig on the patients’ head, something most wig providers are not licensed to do.

“Most patients don’t want to stand out,” he said.  “One of my most pleased clients told me while cutting the wig that her husband cried the night before at the thought that she would have to shave her head. She then called me two days later and said her husband couldn’t even tell the difference between her hair that morning and the wig that evening, and he cried again.”

“A lot of people cannot afford a wig and especially a good one, but their whole demeanor and self-esteem changes when they get a wig,” he said, “and then again when they get a quality wig cut properly for their head.”

Comfort Wigs, ETC is also the only provider in the DFW Metropelx who takes insurance assignments (patient pays only their co-pay) for breast prostheses, mastectomy bras and camisoles for almost all insurance companies. Seal said he employs three Certified Mastectomy Fitters who fit patients in comfortable, private dressing rooms. He tries to keep his business atmosphere inviting in décor and always has refreshments.

“It does not look like a clinic, and the people really appreciate that,” he said. “We tried to create a safe haven for patients to come and feel comfortable and not feel rushed.”

Other providers require the patient to pay for the wigs and mastectomy products out of pocket and then file for reimbursement from the insurance company.

“Lots of people don’t know about these insurance benefits. I literally had to teach some of the insurance companies about wig coverage. That is why it took so long to get the approvals,” he said.  “Now I am having a rough time to get recognized by chemotherapy treatment centers.”

Seal said that Medicare pays for mastectomy products but not wigs. “These people need to know because many of them are on fixed incomes,” he said.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, pushed the legislature to pass a bill mandating insurance coverage for up to $150 for wigs or head coverings. Nelson will propose increasing that amount to $200 when the legislature next convenes in January. Seal said she asked him to speak about the law to the Texas senate next spring. In the meantime, Seal suggests that people write to Nelson to encourage her in her endeavors to push this legislation next year.

“One in every eight women will get breast cancer in their lives. You could be writing for yourself,” he said. “The cost for insurance to cover a wig is nothing compared to the overall cost of treating the disease, and it does so much for the person.”

For information specifically catered to women and men undergoing chemotherapy treatments and answer to questions about hair loss and what patients can expect during treatment and hair re-growth, call Seal at 214-488-8885 or visit http://www.comfortwigsetc.com

More Press Releases
Press Release 1
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500 E. Round Grove Rd, Suite 306
Lewisville, Texas 75067
214-488-8885 1-866-383-8885
FAX 972-316-8885

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