Post-Surgical Hair Loss


A woman pulls hair out of a brush

Excessive female hair loss – you can see it on your hair brush.

What Is Post-Surgical Hair Loss?

Post-surgical hair loss (shock loss) is the heavy shedding of hairs that occurs due to the stress of surgery and general anaesthesia on the body. While it happens more commonly after major surgery, some people experience it after minor surgery too. This kind of hair loss usually starts 4 – 8 weeks after the operation and can continue for many months.

It is characterised by a larger than normal number of shedding hairs, a phenomenon known as telogen effluvium. A normal hair fall range would be around 50 – 100 strands per day. You can find these strands of hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush, collected on the floor trap, or you may not notice them shedding at all.

Do I Have Post-Surgical Hair Loss?

If you have post-surgical hair loss, you may notice that for the earlier weeks post-surgery, a more progressive thinning of hair may occur around the transplanted area and this may last for 2 – 3 months.

At times, this vast thinning of hair is severe, rendering interspersed areas of scalp visible. Usually no selective balding occurs as post-surgical hair loss affects the whole scalp – you won’t notice a sudden bald patch appearing or specific balding at the crown. Heavy shedding is usually more noticeable, but mild conditions may not demonstrate it.

Your hair restoration doctor will assess your scalp using high-powered video-dermoscopy and conduct a hair pull test to confirm the diagnosis. In some scenarios, laboratory tests such as blood tests are carried out to rule out other medical conditions that could trigger telogen effluvium.

Post-Surgical Hair Loss

Stages Of Hair Growth

A simple explanation for the telogen effluvium phenomenon:

Hair follicles have a growth stage (anagen), a transitional stage (catagen) and a resting or shedding stage (telogen). Under normal circumstances, approximately 10% of follicles are in the telogen phase. In telogen effluvium, a larger than normal (20 – 50%) of hairs goes into the resting phase, resulting in massive hair shedding.

The Hair Growth Cycle

How Do I Treat Post-Surgical Hair Loss?

A full healthy head of hair

Firstly, be patient. In most cases of telogen effluvium, hair will regrow after 8 months to a year. Close monitoring of the state of hair fall is crucial.

To treat this hair fall condition early, our patients are advised to use certain anti-hair fall scalp tonics, a hair growth medication such as minoxidil, a home use low-level laser treatment such as Capillus or iGrow, and in-clinic scalp treatments to condition the scalp and aid faster hair regrowth.

Hair transplant in Singapore for post-surgical hair loss is usually not warranted.

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