There is a prevailing question that can surgery affect hair. The answer to this is yes. You can surprisingly lose hair post having surgery. Surgery affects the stress level you take on the body. The more stress you give the body, the more the hair loss from stress.
Post-surgical hair loss (shock loss) occurs due to the stress of surgery and general anesthesia on the body. It happens after a person undergoes major surgery. Sometimes, minor surgery can cause the condition too.
How a Normal Hair Cycle Works?
If you’re seeking the answer to why hair fall occurs post-surgery, you should understand how a normal hair cycle works. Hair grows in three stages: Growth phase (anagen), Involution/ regression phase (catagen) and resting/ quiescent phase (Telogen).
- Anagen Phase: It is the hair active growth phase. It lasts for two to eight years.
- Catagen Phase: During this condition, the hair goes in a transition stage where the hair fiber growth stops. It lasts for 2-3 weeks.
- Telogen Phase: This is the hair’s resting stage. It is at this stage where the hair is reaching out of the skin’s surface. It lasts for about 3 months.
When a body undergoes surgery that creates stress in the body that leads to the hair cycle being stuck at the rest/ Telogen phase. This condition is called Telogen effluvium. Normally, 10 percent of the hair is in the Telogen phase. In Telogen effluvium, 20- 50% of hair goes in the resting phase.
An Insight to Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium is one of the common causes of hair loss. It affects the body cortisol level and the body hair cycle goes to the rest. A normal hair fall range is about 50- 100 strands per day. In the condition of telogen effluvium, the hair loss becomes so significant and hair falls in patches. A progressive hair thinning is observed in the hair that lasts for 2-3 months. Afterward, the thinning spreads around the scalp and the area of scalps become visible. A doctor usually goes for a hair pull test to confirm the hair loss.
Hair loss happens due to the body’s need to be able to provide hair the nutrients and oxygen. The body needs nutrients such as zinc, biotin, vitamin A and vitamin C. You can add this nutrient as a regular diet or supplements post-surgery.
Biotin is a metabolite that coverts our food into energy, The deficiency of biotin causes the thinning of hair, hair loss, scaly skin, and brittle nails.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is needed by our body to produce protein collagen, wound healing, and healthy skin. A deficiency of vitamin C causes hair loss due to disturbed body processes.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for vision, hair growth, immune system, and skin health. Lack of this vitamin causes scaly, dry skin and loss of hair.
Zinc is a mineral necessary for metabolism, immune function, and wound healing. Zinc in the diet helps the hair to be healthy and reduces the incidence of hair loss.
Medication To Treat Telogen Effluvium
Normally, Telogen effluvium resolves on its own. The most common medicine prescribed for Telogen effluvium is minoxidil. Minoxidil is proven to be effective to stimulate hair regrowth. It is a mainstay treatment for androgenetic alopecia and hypertensive conditions.
Alternatively, anti-hair fall scalp tonics and serums can be used also.
If the hair loss is significant, in-clinic scalp treatments and low-level laser treatments are also recommended.
Why Exactly Hair Sheds Post Surgery?
Hair is not a vital organ. When a body undergoes stress conditions such as in surgery, the body produces too much cortisol- the stress hormone. To combat it, the body drives a healing mechanism. Since hair is not required for any metabolic function or other processes, hair is the last organ that gets the nutrients and energy.
Is the Hair Loss Permanent?
No. Telogen Effluvium usually completely resolves in a span of a few months post-surgery and does not require any treatment. The hair follicles are affected for a temporary period. Hair regrows in eight months.
Hair loss occurs after surgery due to a condition known as Telogen effluvium. This condition normally goes on its own. If the hair loss gets worse, medications are available to stimulate hair regrowth.