Select a treatment to
get started

Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss? Post-Surgery Shedding Explained

Read on

Surgery itself can be a stressful part of life, between all kinds of mental and physical stressors, new medications, and the process of recovery -- it can be a lot to handle.

Some people are wondering if the anesthesia medications that must be used to safely perform certain surgeries have any post-surgical hair loss effects. Is there anything to this theory?

Below, we will help try to answer the question of is anesthesia might induce hair loss, what type of hair loss might occur post-surgery, outline telogen effluvium hair loss, and let you know a little about what might help in your hair recovery efforts if you experienced shedding after a surgery.

Does anesthesia cause hair loss?

We do not currently have a clear answer on whether anesthesia itself can be the full causative factor in hair loss after a surgery.

The opinions are mixed and there is not as of right now definitive proof that the anesthesia medications themselves are fully to blame if you experience hair shedding after a procedure.

However, we do know that the stress of surgery itself (maybe along with other factors like anesthesia) can lead to a temporary hair shedding event called telogen effluvium. Luckily, most cases of telogen effluvium are self-limiting, and hair tends to return to its normal state after several months.

Why might anesthesia play a factor in post-operative shedding?

The function of anesthesia used during a procedure is to immobilize the patient and put them in a sleep-like state. This leads to the patient not being able to experience the pain or memory of the surgery, and is very necessary.

These medications may have a connection to triggering telogen effluvium hair loss due to the reduced perfusion of blood in the scalp to bring oxygen, and potentially also the slowed cellular division which may push some hair follicles out of the growth phase and into the resting (telogen) phase, before shedding a few weeks to a couple of months afterward.

Anesthesia and hair loss may have a stronger connection when the surgery itself is a particularly long one.

Telogen effluvium after surgery can occur

Telogen effluvium is a known hair loss event that can occur after stressful events like a major surgery, or after childbirth. The hair loss is normally diffuse and can lead to thinning all over the head, although it does not progress to full hair loss.

This may be triggered by the stress of the surgery itself, any infections that are present, any extreme weight loss that occurs, or potentially some of the medications used. However, it is important to know that this type of hair loss is normally only temporary, and after a period of shedding, usually a month or two after the stressful event, you can expect your hair to start regrowing in just like normal.

Most surgeries are necessary and should not be avoided due to the potential risk of temporary hair shedding. If the risk of any potential hair loss is very concerning to you, talk to your doctor about it.

What to do to aid hair loss recovery after telogen effluvium

If you have had a recent surgery and then noticed some obvious shedding in the week to months after the procedure, you may be experiencing telogen effluvium. Or, it is possible that you are experiencing more common forms of hair loss like hereditary patterned hair loss, and the timing is just coincidental. A doctor should be able to help your pinpoint the type of hair loss you could be experiencing.

If you are experiencing telogen effluvium, the best way to get through is to be gentle and supportive of your hair health. Avoid harsh dyes, heat styling tools, or rough brushing that can lead to damage and worsen your situation.  And, encourage strong and healthy hair growth by making sure your nutrition is optimal with a well-rounded diet, and blood flow is good through regular activity and exercise. Good stress relief practices are important here as well.

Most cases of telogen effluvium stop with the excessive shedding after a few months, and regular growth patterns and density return a few months after that, so no treatment is necessarily required. 

However, if you did want to try something out to encourage potentially faster regrowth of hair shed during telogen effluvium, minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) may be an option. It is important to note that other hair loss medications like Finasteride work well for genetic and hormonally-related androgenetic alopecia (patterned hair loss) but is unlikely to help with a situation like telogen effluvium which is not DHT-driven.

Strut Health prescription hair loss treatments online

Here at Strut, we think outside the box and offer a wide range of prescription hair loss treatments for men and women. We mainly target hereditary hair loss like male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia).

We utilize ingredients like Minoxidil, Finasteride, Dutasteride, Tretinoin, Biotin, and Spironolactone, depending on the formula and what your hair needs. Our medications can be customized to fit your hair and preferences, including if you prefer oral or topical applications.

If you are interested in seeing if a prescription hair loss treatment is a good fit for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.

If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.

Free shipping
Free follow-up care
Cancel anytime, no fees
Free online MD visit

Related posts