What Causes Hair Loss After Surgery?

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Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that can be triggered by surgery, explains Dr. Marc Glashofer to Fox News. Physical trauma, including surgery, severe illness, car accidents and the flu, can lead to temporary hair loss.

Dr. Glashofer states that hair has a programmed life cycle, which includes the growth phase, resting phase and shedding phase. An extremely stressful event, such as surgery, can affect the hair cycle and force more hair toward the shedding phase. Hair loss usually becomes evident three to six months after a physical trauma.

Around 90 percent of hairs are in a growth phase while 10 percent are in a resting phase at any given time, according to naturopathic doctor Jacqueline Jacques for the Obesity Action Coalition. This means that hair loss is typically not noticeable, as people lose less hair than the hair they grow. However, this can change due to telogen effluvium, which has both nutritional and non-nutritional causes. In cases where hair loss occurs due to a non-nutritional cause, hair follicles are not damaged and hair should regrow after six months. Most doctors assure their surgery patients that hair grows back following surgery, particularly by maintaining good nutritional intake. Certain nutritional deficiencies tend to worsen telogen effluvium. If hair loss continues for more than one year after surgery or starts more than six months after surgery, a nutritional deficiency is likely a contributor to the post-surgery hair loss.