The mestiza muse

Post-Surgery Hair Loss

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Verna Meachum

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Hair loss is a common condition and is prevalent amongst a large segment of the population. One of the hair’s functions is protecting and preserving our scalp and brain organs from external changes. For example, hair preserves our brain tissues and nerves from sudden temperature changes in the surroundings. An adult scalp usually has 100,000 – 150,000 hairs.

Dermatological studies reveal that everyone living a normal lifestyle without health issues sheds roughly approximately 100 hairs every day. The biochemical reasons for this hair loss can be genetic or chronic and climate and lifestyle practices. In medical and dermatological terms, hair loss or baldness is called “Alopecia,” and scientists have discussed various reasons for hair loss.

Post-surgery hair loss is also a frequently reported case. Major surgery or prolonged medication has been discussed to cause sudden hair shedding. It could happen to any part of the body, more prevalent at the scalp area. This is termed as “Telogen Effluvium”. In this short review, I’ll explain the potential scientific reasons and how to avoid or fix this problem.

Post-Surgery Hair Loss, Anesthesia, and Stress

Hair emerges from a cellular complex known as a “Hair Follicle” via a complex biological process. The emergence of a new hair from its follicle, growth, and subsequent fall is called the “hair Cycle.” A normal hair cycle involves fours steps;

  1. Anagen (Growing phase)

  2. Catagen (Transition phase)

  3. Telegen (Resting phase)

  4. Exogen (Shedding phase)

Just like our body health, our hairs require nutrients, good hygiene, and “life without stress.” Any abnormality or stress can disturb the hair cycle. Surgery or prolonged medication is considered as “stress” that can influence our hair life. During prolonged medication or post-surgery cases, body metabolism changes, and our whole body goes through a pain-relieving strategy to release or combat this stress. It is believed that under such pressure or health condition, our body requires more nutrients and therefore the existing supply of nutrients are consumed preferentially and quickly to restore body metabolism. The lack of nutrients and their increasing demand can also induce various metabolic disorders. As a result, hair becomes weakened, and hair follicles stop processing new hairs. Surgeries involving severe skin cuts or incisions can also disturb hair follicles.

This type of hair loss generally happens two to three months after the surgery and can be reversed, and hair loss can be recovered by supplying the missing nutrients. However, a prolonged deficiency can inactivate hair follicles altogether, causing a complete death of hair follicles and a permanent hair loss.


Various chemical agents are used as “anesthesia” during surgery, and their usage and dosage vary with medical conditions or surgery requirements. Some medics and dermatologists attribute the post-surgery loss to prolonged or repeated exposure to anesthesia compounds. Though there are few scientific findings, it is believed that anesthesia slows down a cellular division in follicles, pushing them into a prolonged resting phase; this slows down the whole hair cycle disturbing the growth of new hair fibers from the follicles.

Psychological Stress

Major surgery can cause serious mental and psychological disturbance. Stressed nerves can even induce localized inflammation underneath the scalp surface, leading to different medical conditions that can reduce blood circulation to the upper scalp, leading to a shortage of oxygen and essential nutrients.

Remedy: How to Avoid It

“Good food, Good exercise, Good sleep”

Surgery might bring a series of serious consequences, and you need progressive steps to minimize its negative impact. A balanced lifestyle is vital to combat this problem. Your energetic body and recovered/normal metabolism will ensure active blood circulation carrying oxygen and essential nutrients to weakened body parts. To achieve this recovery, you need a balanced diet full of proteins, vitamins, and essential minerals.

Moreover, exercise has a significant impact on our body’s response. It improves our oxygen capacity and boosts blood circulation. It also stimulates our appetite, asking for more food intake to meet higher nutrient demand. Lastly, make sure your body gets enough rest and sound sleep. So, the bottom line is, in a post-surgery life, you need a balanced life-style to minimize surgery impact and recover your body metabolism.

Hair Care

Various hair care products are available in the market that aims to boost blood circulation to the scalp surface and calm down your nerves. Natural ingredients extracted from plants have demonstrated such characteristic benefits. Essential oils or extracts of Rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, and even Olive Oil may relax your hair follicles, stimulate your nerves, relieve stress, and may even induce new hair growth. Furthermore, some therapeutic agents have also been reported to stimulate hair growth. Among them, Minoxidil is popularly available in various modes of formulations.

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