Can surgery cause telogen effluvium?

Specific Conditions

Surgery of any kind, whether major or minor, can come as a shock to the body and mind and upset the hair cycle. Many people find they lose hair after surgery for up to three months and then it will come back to normal.

When the body has to fight against shock it uses up its nutrients sending them to the vital organs to keep the body working. Although the skin is the largest organ it is the least important and will receive nutrients, or what is left, last. It is only a temporary stage and does not affect the recovery time after surgery.

Telogen effluvium is named after the last cycle of the hair, which has three. The anagen is the growing phase where the hair will grow at a rate of around 1 centimetre a month for up to 7 years. It then enters the transitional phase for 2 – 4 weeks whilst it is disconnected from the blood supply ready to enter the final resting phase the telogen. The hair then falls out. After a shock such as surgery the hair can prematurely enter the resting phase and hair begins to fall out. This is known as telogen effluvium and more hair than normal will start to shed. This can lead to thinning of hair and in extreme cases bald patches.

Losing hair can cause anxiety and stress to some as this is an important part of the body that is seen by others, it states who we are. Many follow the latest hair fashions and trends and if the hair is too thin to cope it can leave a person feeling depressed. There are alternatives during this period such as changing hair style altogether to help cover thinning patches. Layering the hair can make it look thicker as well as give it style. Some turn to the use of a wig during this period. Today they are a lot better made and as they can be made from real hair they look real, can be worn for long lengths of time and do not need to be taken off for showering or sleeping.

In a very few cases, surgery can spark hair loss that is actually due to genetics, which can cause permanent hair loss. This does not happen very often and will only happen if there is a family history of baldness. There are treatments that are available which can include shampoos and conditioners with added nutrients or oils to massage into the scalp to invigorate and improve the health of follicles. Consulting and hair expert is the best way forward after hair loss, particularly if it continues over a length of time. They will look into family history, health, diet, lifestyle, medication etc. to ensure there are no other reasons for hair loss.

Following a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals will always benefit not only the hair but the body and mind as well. Vitamin and mineral supplements can also be taken for those who may not follow a good diet but care should be taken as too many can cause harm. If in doubt consult a dietician who will advise on a diet suitable for the individual. As well as diet there are other factors that can affect the health of hair including accidents, weather, illness, lifestyle, hairstyle and medication just to mention a few.


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