Most commonly, post-surgery hair fall is caused by Telogen Efluvium(TE), which is a condition that disrupts your normal hair follicle cycle.
You lose 50-100 hairs each day. Sometimes, however, certain medical conditions or surgeries can lead to hair follicles not producing hairs as expected.
Although hair loss following surgery is possible, it is usually temporary. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about hair fall after surgery.
Your follicles undergo a normal hair growth cycle that lasts a few years. The resting phases of hair follicles are called telogens. They don’t produce new hairs continuously.
The American Hair Loss Association estimates that 10-20 percent of your hair’s follicles may be in a telogen condition at any time.
Telogen effluvium is a common form of hair loss. It’s when the percentage of telogen hairs is higher than 20%.
Sometimes, hair follicles can be left in a longer resting position after surgery. You’re less likely to experience large bald patches associated with Alopecia Areata. Instead, your hair will become thinner as a result.
These are some ways that surgery can cause TE-related hair fall:
Surgery is considered invasive and can cause a lot stress for your body.
According to the American Skin Association hair loss following a stressful event is most likely within 3 to 6 month.
Certain nutrients are necessary for hair growth.
Your body may divert nutrients from vital organs if you experience a stressful event like surgery. This could lead to hair loss and TE.
A 2012 research reviewTrusted Source found that this type of hair loss is not very common. It occurs when your head stays in one place for long periods. This can reduce blood flow to hair follicles.
Because your head is not in one place for too long, positional alopecia doesn’t occur as often in short procedures.
This type of hair loss was most common in cardiac surgery, according to the same research review.
Because of the amount of time spent in one position, it is possible to develop positional alopecia.
Larry S. Nichter is a board-certified plastic surgeon at Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach. Although it’s still a matter of debate, some doctors believe there could be a link between hair loss and anesthesia, especially for long-term surgeries.
Long anesthetic periods may lead to TE-related hair fall by reducing cell division. In turn, a slower rate of cell division could lead to a decrease in hair follicle formation. However, clinical trials have not shown this to be true.
Hair loss can also be caused by the type of anesthesia used. According to a 2012 study by Trusted Source, hypotensive anesthesia is most commonly used in maxillofacial surgery. This can increase the likelihood of developing positional alopecia.
A 2015 reviewTrusted Source found that hypotensive anesthesia can still be used to reduce blood loss during certain procedures, such as dental surgeries.
Side effects of medication
Hair loss can occur from certain medications you take after surgery, particularly if you are allergic to them. If you are taking any of these drugs that can cause hair loss, the American Skin Association recommends you talk to your doctor.
- Anti-Seizure Medicines
- Anti-Thyroid Medicines
Type of surgery
You should also consider where your surgery will be performed. All surgeries can cause hair loss and TE. However, if you have incisions made on your scalp, your hair follicles may shut down more quickly.
A 2012 research review by Trusted Source found that head and neck surgery, as well the use of hypotensive, can increase the risk of hair loss.
Although hair loss following surgery can’t be prevented completely, there are ways to help reduce the impact of TE. This includes:
- A nutritious diet rich in plant-based food is essential.
- Regular exercise is important
- Better sleep
- Stress management
You must ensure that you aren’t suffering from any nutritional deficiencies
Hair loss can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, with or without surgery.
According to a 2018 research review byTrusted Source, these micronutrients were identified as supporting healthy hair follicles.
- Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
Make sure you get enough iron and protein
The American Academy of Dermatology Association has found that healthy hair growth can also be linked to adequate iron and protein intake.
You might be able to reduce hair loss by consuming foods high in these nutrients. However, it is not clear if you can prevent surgical-related hair loss using any particular diet.
A blood test is able to determine if you are deficient in any of these nutrients. Your doctor may recommend specific foods or supplements based upon the results.
Supplements should not be taken by anyone on their own if they aren’t prescribed for you. A 2017 research reviewTrusted Source found that taking supplements can increase the risk of hair loss due to toxicities.
Before you have any hair-related concerns, talk to your doctor.
Before you have your surgery, it is important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of hair loss due to surgery.
You may want to ask the medical team about their plans for head turning schedules in order to prevent positional alopecia.
Your doctor will be able to assess your risk factors and offer you an action plan that can help reduce hair loss. These strategies may include the ones mentioned above as well as possible post-surgery treatments.
It can be distressing to notice a decrease in hair growth or thinning after a surgery. Your doctor can help you take the necessary steps to address this issue.
A dermatologist will be able to determine whether professional or home treatment is the best option. However, it can take many months for any of these options to fully take effect.
Some treatments at-home may include:
- minoxidil (Rogaine), a topical treatment that is applied to your hair once or twice daily
- Microneedling Devices that stimulate hair follicles with fine needles
- Laser caps and combs can be applied to your hair upto three times per week
Your dermatologist might recommend the following professional treatments depending on the severity of your hair loss:
- Corticosteroid injections
- Laser therapy
- Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP), Injections with or without Microneedling
- Prescription medications for hair loss include finasteride and spironolactone (for women)
Although the chances of hair loss following surgery are not well-established, it is possible for this major stressor to interfere with hair follicle cycles and cause temporary hair loss.
Hair loss can also be caused by other risk factors, such as:
- The type of surgery that you are undergoing
- Your overall health
- Your lifestyle
Most cases of hair loss following surgery will resolve themselves within several months.
Talk to a dermatologist if you lose hair after surgery.