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Hair Loss After Surgery: Why Does It Happen and How to Treat It

Surgery can be traumatic, and it may even affect your hair. Learn why some people experience hair loss after surgical procedures.

Read on

Post-surgery recovery can be a mentally and physically stressful time, where your body needs to work overtime to help heal and return to normal functionality.

This recovery period may also come along with profuse and rapid hair shedding, called Telogen Effluvium.

Below, we will cover just why surgeries can spark hair loss after the fact, which types of surgeries may have more risk of hair loss, how to help prevent rapid hair loss after surgery, and what treatment options may be available if you experience this hair loss.

What is Telogen Effluvium?

A high-stress event like a surgery, giving birth, high fevers, or an infection can cause the hair follicles to launch into a state called Telogen Effluvium.

Telogen Effluvium occurs when a larger portion of the hairs which are in the growing (anagen) phase, are pushed over into the no growth telogen phase which prepares the hair for shedding.

Telogen Effluvium may lead to up to 70% of all hair strands being rapidly shed about 2-3 months after the stressful event. This shedding is normally diffuse, meaning that you likely won’t see bald spots, but there will be an overall even thinning of the hair. Luckily, for most people experiencing Telogen Effluvium, the shed hair will move back into a normal growth pattern within 6-9 months.

Telogen Effluvium is the most common cause of rapid hair loss post-surgery, although it is possible for other types of hair loss to be in play as well.

Why does hair loss sometimes happen after surgery?

A surgery may lead to Telogen Effluvium or other types of hair loss for a few different reasons.

Firstly, surgery can be very stressful for the body triggering Telogen Effluvium. Also, if the body is trying to heal an area post-surgery, it may shunt some of the vital nutrients for growth from the non-necessary hair follicles to prioritize life-sustaining organs and repair.

Some have also suggested that the anesthesia used during some surgeries may contribute to Telogen Effluvium or post-surgery hair loss, although this has not been confirmed.

Additionally, some very long surgeries may cause the head to stay in the very same position for a long period of time reducing adequate blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles and producing something called Positional Alopecia. However, this is more likely to occur during very long duration surgeries of 6 hours or more. This may be able to be helped by asking your doctor if having your head turned periodically during the surgery is an option.

If your surgery requires incisions in your scalp, this may also cause hair loss in the area due to the damage and scarring of the hair follicles close to the surgery area.

How to help prevent hair loss after a surgery

You may not always be able to prevent hair loss after surgery, but you may be able to help support your body as best as you can to potentially reduce or avoid hair losses.

This may include making sure that you are eating a healthy diet full of plenty of protein, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. This will help provide your body with the fuel and building blocks it needs to recover while having plenty leftover to maintain your strands. Sometimes integrating supplements may be able to help correct a deficiency or help provide adequate nutrition.

Also, integrating healthy stress relief techniques like meditation, gentle exercise (as tolerated), and plenty of sleep may help your body better handle the stress from the surgery.

If you know that you are going in for a long surgery, you may also be able to speak with your doctor about integrating measures to prevent positional alopecia like periodic head-turning.

How to treat surgery-related hair loss

If your post-surgery hair loss seems to be from Telogen Effluvium, your hair growth will likely return to normal after 6-9 months as long as the stressor has been removed, and no other forms of hair loss are currently also occurring (like genetic hair loss).

However, if you would like to kick start your growth or treat your hair losses, there are a few potential medications or treatments that may be helpful.

Medications commonly used for hair loss:

  • Minoxidil (over the counter)
  • Finasteride or Dutasteride (for men, prescription only)
  • Spironolactone (for women, prescription only)
  • Corticosteroid injections (mainly for Alopecia Areata)

Medical treatments commonly used for hair loss:

  • Microneedling, dermarollers, or dermapens
  • Laser therapy, caps, or combs
  • Platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injections

These treatment options all have pros and cons, and not every medication or procedure may be a good fit for everyone. If your post-surgery hair loss bothers you, you can speak with a doctor to identify the best options for you.

Strut Health hair loss medications prescribed online

Here at Strut Health, we have a focus on helping people get the hair loss treatment they need, for a variety of root hair loss causes.

You can have a free online consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors to see if a prescription hair loss medication is right for you. We provide medications for both men and women, and have oral and topical options. With compounded formulations, we are able to combine multiple prescription ingredients tailored to your current hair, your medical history, and your goals.

If you are a good fit for treatment, your prescription medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you have questions or need adjustments during your treatment process, you can get back in touch with us using your free unlimited follow-ups to keep your progress on track.

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