The normal rate of hair loss is up to 100 per day, but you won’t notice any changes in how thick your hair feels. But if you’ve recently gone under general anesthesia for a medical procedure and have noticed a few more hairs than normal in the shower drain or on your brush, you may be wondering, “Does anesthesia lead to hair loss?”
A very relaxed state of being is achieved by doctors using anesthesia. However, one of the more unexpected potential causes of unexpected hair loss is general anesthesia.
This article explores the potential effects of surgery and anesthesia on hair growth and provides information on how to control post-anesthesia hair loss.
Can Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss?
There is little research on the relationship between anesthesia—the use of drugs to relieve pain and discomfort during medical procedures—and hair loss. However, we are aware that both physical and emotional stress can result from surgery, which is frequently performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. So it probably makes more sense to think of hair loss following surgery rather than hair loss following anesthesia when we discuss anesthesia and hair loss.
The good news is that a surgical procedure doesn’t always cause hair loss; most of the time, hair loss following anesthesia and surgery is temporary. It’s typically a form of hair loss called telogen effluvium (TE).
Understanding Anesthesia, Surgery and Hair Loss
It’s important to cover the fundamentals of how you actually lose hair before we get into the specifics of anesthesia and hair loss.
While the majority of people equate all hair loss with male pattern baldness, men can actually experience a variety of hair loss types.
A permanent hair loss condition is male pattern baldness. It occurs when dihydrotestosterone, or DHT — an androgen hormone produced as a byproduct of testosterone — binds to receptors in the scalp and damages the hair follicles.
Most of the time, male pattern baldness begins as a receding hairline or bald patch around the crown.
It can get worse over time, leading to a nearly completely bald scalp and the well-known horseshoe pattern of hair on the sides and back of your head.
There is no evidence that anesthesia or surgery contribute to the development of male pattern baldness; rather, this condition is brought on by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.
On the other hand, telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss brought on by modifications to your hair cycle.
There are several phases to the growth cycle of your hair. Hair grows from the hair follicle to its full length during the anagen phase.
This process typically takes between two and six years for hairs on your scalp, or a few months for body hairs.
The telogen phase, which is a time of rest and cell shedding, comes after the transitory phase known as catagen.
When a physiologically stressful event throws off the hair cycle and causes hairs to enter the telogen phase too soon, this condition is known as telogen effluvium.
When these hairs reach the telogen stage, growth stops and they eventually fall out, leaving a pronounced thinning of the hair.
Telogen effluvium can be brought on by a variety of conditions, such as metabolic stress, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, infections, and fever-producing illnesses, as well as any other stressful event to the body.
Although there is no known connection between anesthesia and male pattern baldness, there is a connection between telogen effluvium, major surgery, and anesthesia.
Common Signs of Telogen Effluvium
Unlike male pattern baldness, which gradually causes a receding hairline or bald patch near the crown, telogen effluvium usually develops as excessive shedding that occurs across your entire scalp.
If you’re affected by telogen effluvium, you may notice abrupt, sudden loss of hair several months after being placed under anesthesia during surgery.
The majority of the time, this diffuse pattern of hair loss will affect your entire scalp, giving your hair a thin, low-density appearance.
You might discover that, especially in bright light or when your hair is wet, it’s simpler to see your scalp through your hair.
The onset of telogen effluvium hair loss typically occurs two to three months after a particular event, such as surgery or anesthesia exposure.
In the months following the causative event but before shedding, your hairs will go into a resting state.
This sudden and abrupt thinning of the hair occurs as the hairs return to the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, where new hairs that emerge from the follicles cause the old hairs to shed.
How to Treat Hair Loss from Anesthesia Or Surgery
A transient form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Once the underlying cause of your hair loss is identified and treated, your hair will gradually grow back to its normal thickness and density.
DHT isn’t the cause of telogen effluvium, so finasteride and other hormonal treatments for male pattern baldness won’t prevent it from happening or speed up the hair-regrowth process.
To hasten hair regrowth and restore your hair more quickly, you may want to combine good hair care practices with products that are based on science, like minoxidil.
Apply Minoxidil to Your Scalp
The topical hair loss drug minoxidil may help to stimulate growth and hasten the recovery process even though finasteride is ineffective for treating telogen effluvium.
By advancing hair follicles from the telogen phase of the hair growth cycle into the anagen phase and boosting scalp blood flow, minoxidil promotes hair growth.
Research suggests that it may help to move hair follicles from the telogen phase into the anagen phase, potentially promoting faster regrowth.
Easy to use minoxidil. It’s available as a liquid solution or foam and is designed to be applied directly to the areas of your scalp with hair loss.
Online, we provide minoxidil foam and solution. In our guide to applying minoxidil for hair growth, you can find out more information about using it.
The temporary hair loss condition known as telogen effluvium is the most frequent type of hair shedding that patients experience after major surgery. There hasn’t been much research on the direct link between anesthesia and hair loss, but preliminary findings point to the possibility of a relationship between certain anesthetics and a specific type of hair loss known as pressure (or positional) alopecia.
When recovering from surgery-related hair loss, take a holistic approach to wellness that includes a healthy diet, lots of sleep, a gentle hair care routine and exercise. If you’re experiencing hair loss after surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor or dermatologist to discuss treatment options.
How Long Will Hair Fall Out After Anesthesia?
Hair loss following surgery typically returns over the course of several months. Consult a dermatologist about possible treatments and ways to possibly regulate your hair growth cycle once more if you experience hair loss following surgery.
Is It Normal to Lose a Lot of Hair After Surgery?
Telogen effluvium is the term for this. This is the most common form of hair loss and typically seen two to three months after a major body stress, such as major surgery, chronic illness, or significant infection.
Is Hair Loss a Side Effect of Surgery?
Telogen effluvium is one of the more aggravating side effects that many patients experience after surgery. Thankfully, the hair follicles are only temporarily affected. As long as the stress levels have decreased, new hair will continue to grow and within months, the excessive hair loss will stop.