Last updated on 11/30/21
If you have curly hair, you know how difficult at times it can be to style and maintain it. But what about after surgery? What do those with curly hair need to be aware of during a post-surgery recovery period? How can they keep their curls looking healthy and beautiful?
Those are all great questions and in this article we will be providing you with tips for overcoming post-surgery hair loss. We will also give you information about the importance of taking care of your curls during this time, as well as some tips for maintaining them.
Post-Surgery Hair Loss
Hair loss caused by surgery is a common occurrence. Sudden hair loss has been linked to major surgery or prolonged medication. It can affect any part of the body, with the scalp being most affected. This is referred to as “Telogen Effluvium”.
In the first two weeks after surgery, it is common for patients to experience hair loss, and it is much more likely if the patient was put under general anesthesia. This can be explained by how major surgery or anesthesia can cause a sudden hormonal imbalance.
Three days post the surgical procedure, the patient may complain of hair shedding and it could continue for two to three weeks after.
Some doctors suspect there may be a link between anesthesia and hair loss, particularly with surgeries lasting several hours. The more invasive and traumatic the surgery, the greater the hair loss may be.
Medications such as anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy) and beta-blockers for hypertension can also cause telogen effluvium. Drugs like warfarin and heparin, which are used to prevent blood clots, have also been associated with hair loss.
It’s important to be aware of the potential causes of telogen effluvium so steps can be taken to avoid it or lessen its effects.
Ways to reduce the risk of telogen effluvium include:
- Following your doctor’s orders closely post-surgery
- Managing stress, which can magnify other postoperative side effects like hair loss. The patient should be well prepared for surgery beforehand and must follow through
The amount of time spent under anesthesia is also important. It’s vital to keep in mind that this type of hair loss is not permanent and doesn’t suggest any serious underlying conditions.
Your body just needs time to settle down after a traumatic event, so don’t worry too much about it! It will grow back within 3 months. All you need to do is relax and wait for your body’s natural wonders to take place!
If you think you are experiencing telogen effluvium, there are a few things you can do to help hasten the hair growth process:
- Massage your scalp with a nourishing oil like coconut oil (love this brand!), olive oil, or Righteous Roots Oils (my go-to oil for all things hair!)
- Take biotin supplements
- Avoid tight hairstyles that put stress on your hair follicles
- See a trichologist if you have any other underlying causes for your hair loss.
Post-Surgery Hair Loss, Anesthesia, and Stress
Hair grows from a cellular complex known as a “Hair Follicle” via a complex biological process. The emergence of new hair from its follicle, growth, and subsequent fall is called the “hair Cycle.” A normal hair cycle involves fours steps;
- Anagen (Growing phase)
- Catagen (Transition phase)
- Telegen (Resting phase)
- 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, if hair follicles are kept inactive for a long time, they can be destroyed and a permanent loss of hair will result.
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.
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.
Steps to follow to minimize post-surgery hair loss
If you’re like most curly-haired people, you’re probably wondering how to take care of your hair post-surgery. Fortunately, all of these issues can be resolved by taking a few simple steps.
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.
Making sure that your diet is healthy and that it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats is vital. It will help you recover faster. Make sure you are getting enough nutrients each day.
Exercise has a significant influence on our body’s response. It improves our oxygen capacity and boosts blood circulation, as well as stimulates our appetite.
You do not need to go running or engage in intense exercise, especially after surgery. Simply walking around the block with a friend or family member can be sufficient enough activity per day.
Even though this might sound trivial, the importance of physical activity cannot be stressed enough.
Get enough rest and good sleep. Just like exercise is important for recovery; adequate sleep is also crucial when recovering from any type of surgery.
You will probably feel tired after surgery, so make sure to get as much sleep as possible. Try to stick to a regular sleeping schedule as much as you can.
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, 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.
It is also important to maintain hair hygiene to avoid scalp odor and other unfavorable conditions.
- The use of gentle shampoos and conditioners
- Avoid tight hairstyles
- Regular trims will also help remove split ends and minimize the chances of your hair breaking off
Do you have any questions about how to take care of curly hair post-surgery? Leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to help.
Thanks for reading!