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How Long Will Hair Fall Out After Anesthesia? All You Need To Know!

By Jessica Rivera

Updated On

Fact Checked By: SWA Research Team

The article herein was crafted with AI assistance under human supervision.

Have you ever gone under anesthesia for surgery and noticed more hair falling out than usual afterward? It can be concerning to see extra hair in your brush or shower drain in the weeks following a procedure.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people experience some degree of hair loss after being put under. In this article, we’ll dive into why this happens and how long will hair fall out after anesthesia.

Key Takeways


▪️ Anesthesia can trigger a temporary condition called telogen effluvium, which results in sudden, excessive hair shedding

▪️ Several factors may contribute to these such as physiological stress responses to surgery, changes in hormone levels, and the direct effects of anesthesia medications on hair follicles.

▪️ Typically, individuals tend to observe increased hair shedding approximately 3 to 4 months following their procedure, with the peak usually occurring around the 5-month period.

Why Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss?

First, let’s talk about why anesthesia can lead to hair shedding in the first place. It all has to do with the normal hair growth cycle. Did you know that your hair follows a pattern of growing, resting, and falling out? Yep, it’s true!

Anesthesia Causes Hair Loss

Normally, each hair on your head goes through three main phases:

  • The growth phase (anagen)
  • The transition phase (catagen)
  • The resting/shedding phase (telogen)

Around 90% of your hair is usually in the growth stage at any given time. But certain stressors, like surgery and anesthesia, can shock more hairs than normal into the shedding phase all at once. Telogen effluvium is the medical term for such kinds of hair loss.

When you’re put under for an operation, your body goes through a lot of stress. The anesthesia drugs, the surgery itself, blood loss, and changes in your diet and sleep afterward can all be taxing. This stress is thought to be what jumpstarts telogen effluvium in some people. These are some of the main reasons behind hair falling after anesthesia.

How Long Does Post-Surgery Shedding Last?

Okay, so now you know why your hair might start falling out more than usual after having anesthesia. But the big question is, how long will this annoying shedding last?
Well, the timing actually lines up with the normal hair growth cycle. Remember how we said the resting phase happens right before the shedding phase? That resting phase usually lasts around 3 months.

So, if the stress of surgery and anesthesia makes more hair than usual enter the resting phase, you’ll start to notice the shedding about 3 months later. This lines up with what doctors see in many post-surgery patients.

Most of the time, people notice extra hair loss starting around 3 to 4 months after their procedure. Then, the shedding usually peaks around the 5-month mark. By 6 months after anesthesia, most of the hair loss has slowed down and things are starting to get back to normal. In general, telogen effluvium caused by anesthesia and surgery should resolve on its own within 6 to 9 months.

At this point, your hair should be back to its normal fullness. The key is to be patient! Remember, your hair has to go through the growth cycle again, and it can take a while for everything to even out.

What If My Hair Keeps Falling Out Longer Than Expected?

While post-surgery hair loss is super common and temporary, sometimes hair shedding can be a sign of an underlying health condition. If you’re still losing lots of hair 9 months or more after having anesthesia, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

Certain nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune disorders can cause chronic hair shedding. Your doctor can run some tests to see if something else might be contributing to your hair loss.

It’s also important to note that some medications, like certain blood pressure drugs and antidepressants, can cause hair loss as a side effect. If you started a new medicine around the same time as your surgery, that could also be playing a role.

Tips For Managing Post-Anesthesia Hair Loss

While you can’t prevent post-surgery shedding entirely, there are a few things you can do to baby your hair and encourage new growth:

  • Be gentle with your hair: Avoid harsh brushing, tight hairstyles, and heat styling as much as possible.
  • Keep your scalp healthy: Wash your hair regularly with a gentle shampoo to keep your scalp clean and prevent buildup.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Make sure you’re getting enough protein, iron, nutrients, and other vitamins that are essential for healthy hair growth.
  • Try a supplement: Some people find that taking a hair-growth supplement containing biotin or other vitamins can help speed up the regrowth process. Just check with your doctor first!
  • Reduce stress: Since stress is a big trigger for telogen effluvium, do your best to keep your stress levels in check as you recover from surgery.

The Bottom Line

To sum it all up, temporary hair loss after having anesthesia is a real thing, but it’s usually not a cause for concern. Most people see extra shedding start around 3 months post-op, peak around 5 months, then return to normal within 6 to 9 months.

While waiting for your hair to regain its fullness, be patient with the process and kind to your hair. Eat well, avoid harsh styling, and do your best to keep stress levels low. If shedding continues longer than 9 months, check with your doctor to rule out other causes.

So tell us, have you ever experienced hair loss after surgery or anesthesia? How long did it last for you? Leave a comment and let us know!

References

  1. National Library of Medicine (n.d) Postoperative alopecia: a case report and literature review Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7835058/
  2. MedlinePlus (n.d) General anesthesia Available online at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007410.htm
  3. BetterHealth (2024) Patterned hair loss Available online at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/patterned-hair-loss

Jessica Rivera

Dr. Jessica Rivera has more than 10 years of experience in the cosmetic industry as a hair care specialist. As a licensed cosmetologist, she has an in-depth understanding of hair and scalp health and a strong desire to support others in achieving their hair goals. Dr. Jessica is also a reputable author and supplement reviewer, specializing in hair care products and ingredients. Her engaging and informative writing style makes complex topics accessible to a wide audience. Dr. Jessica is committed to assisting her readers in making well-informed decisions regarding their hair care routines in order to attain healthy, beautiful hair.

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