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Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss? Find Out What Research Has to Say

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Undergoing surgery, whether minor or major can be stressful. Add a possible risk of hair loss to that, and it becomes worse. But the real question is: Does anesthesia cause hair loss? If yes, why? Read on to find out. 

Table of Contents

1. Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss?
2. Why Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss? How Long Does it Last?
3. What Are the Other Side Effects of Anesthesia?
4. How Can I Stop My Hair From Falling Out After Surgery?
  4.1 Eat Healthily
  4.2 Avoid Stress
  4.3 Get Adequate Sleep
  4.4 Try Supplements
  4.5 Scalp Micro Pigmentation
5. Conclusion

Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss? 

Although it hasn’t been confirmed by research that anesthesia does cause hair loss, some studies have shown that there may be a link. Even so, it is more likely to happen in patients who undergo lengthy anesthetics periods and not after shorter ones. Moreover, certain types of anesthesia can lead to sudden hair loss. 

According to one study, a commonly used anesthesia for maxillofacial surgeries called hypotensive anesthesia may increase the risk of positional alopecia. Positional alopecia is a condition in which hair loss occurs after a person has been in one position for several hours at a time. This is due to low blood flow to the hair follicles when the head has been in one position for too long.

Furthermore, telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss that usually happens due to stress, shock, or another triggering event (in this case anesthesia). It is the most common cause of non-scarring alopecia and is characterized by an abrupt onset of hair loss a few months after a triggering event. Generally, it lasts for 6 months; however, chronic telogen effluvium can last for longer. 

Why Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss? How Long Does it Last?

It has to do with the mechanism and duration of being under anesthesia. Essentially, anesthetics work by stopping the nerve signals that are responsible for keeping us awake. 

One study showed that, because anesthesia slows down cell division, cells that require fast cell division undergo a resting phase. This includes the hair follicles, thereby leading to hair loss. However, it doesn't last for too long, and the cells will soon go back to their normal regeneration pattern.

Another study showed that postoperative alopecia may appear in patients who undergo a prolonged head surgery or intensive care stay. In some cases, it begins as swelling, tenderness, or ulceration on the scalp in the days following the surgery. It is a rare condition and it can be prevented by being vigilant and getting treatment on the first signs. 

Heavy shedding of the hair may occur after major or minor surgery. This hair loss typically begins within 2 to 6 weeks of surgery and lasts approximately 3 to 6 months. However, in some cases, hair regrowth may take up to a year. 

Moreover, there are several other factors such as heredity, medications, microbial infections, pressure on the head post-surgery, other health conditions, etc. which may lead to hair loss. 

What Are the Other Side Effects of Anesthesia?

The common side effects you may experience after anesthesia include dizziness, headaches, itchiness, bruising and soreness, and feeling sick or cold. However, none of these side effects last for very long. 

Some of the more serious side effects of anesthesia include permanent nerve damage leading to numbness or paralysis, anaphylactic reaction, and in extreme cases death. But these effects are rare and depend on several other factors, such as your medical history. 

How Can I Stop My Hair From Falling Out After Surgery?

When you experience hair loss or thinning after surgery with anesthesia, you should consider visiting your doctor or dermatologist to help you with possible solutions. In the meantime, you can try some of the solutions mentioned below. 

Eat Healthily

Increasing your iron and zinc intake is a good place to start. Iron and zinc deficiencies have been linked to hair loss. Make sure that you consume generous amounts of green leafy vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, dairy, eggs, grains, etc. 

Avoid Stress

While you should always avoid stress, you should particularly try to avoid it in the days following surgery, as it can make your hair follicles weaker and more susceptible to fall out. Also, avoid putting too much pressure on your head, do loose hairstyles to prevent breakage, and stay away from heat-styling tools for a while. 

Get Adequate Sleep

You may know that cell generation happens when the body is at rest. It is especially important to get adequate sleep on the days following surgery to allow cell generation. An insufficient amount of sleep may also affect the pigmentation of hair leading to premature greying. So make sure that you sleep the recommended 8 hours per night. 

Try Supplements

Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E promote hair growth. Consuming them in the form of supplements is beneficial if you are experiencing extreme hair loss. 

Other supplements you can try include iron and zinc supplements. Although you should ensure adequate consumption from foods rich in these nutrients, supplements may help in increasing the rate of hair growth. 

Scalp Micro Pigmentation

It is one of the most reliable solutions for hair loss. In this process, a machine is used to implant pigments on the head that gives the illusion of hair follicles. It is generally performed in patients with extreme hair loss and is suitable for both men and women. 

You can try a topical treatment with minoxidil, micro-needling, or laser caps to stimulate hair growth. Depending on the severity of the hair loss, your dermatologist may recommend you to go for corticosteroid injections, laser therapy, or prescription medications. 

Conclusion

While there isn't concrete evidence that anesthesia does cause hair loss, many studies suggest that there may be a link. Even so, you should understand the root cause of hair loss and figure out the best way to prevent or stop it. You always have the option to opt for hair treatments, but you may want to try and balance your diet, sleep pattern, and overall lifestyle as a first step.

Sangya Shaily

Sangya Shaily is a content writer from Mumbai, India. She loves writing lifestyle, beauty, fashion, and health & wellness-related content, among other things. In her leisure time, she loves to indulge in reading classic literature and spend time with her family.

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