Post-Surgical Hair Loss

What Is Post-Surgical Hair Loss?

Enduring illness and surgery is stressful enough on our bodies, but for some of us, the effects of surgery can still last months after it is completed. Post-surgical hair loss is a form of telogen effluvium (TE) that happens due to the shock of surgery or anaesthesia used during surgery, usually 2-3 months after the event. During big events that the body is not used to – like surgery – the human body experiences stress, causes cortisol to shoot up, and pushes hair from growth phase into the hair fall phase. A 2012 research review found that patients may have higher risk of hair loss when a specific type of anaesthesia is used, usually during maxillofacial surgeries.

In a normal person, 8-10% of our hair at any given time is in the phase where hair fall may occur. Since there are 100,000 hair follicles or more on each person’s scalp, that means that losing 50-100 strands of hair each day is perfectly normal! However, with post-surgical telogen effluvium, we may notice even more of these strands on our bed sheets and shower drainage a few months after our minor/major surgeries.

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of Post-Surgical Hair Loss


Post Surgical

How would you know if surgery is the cause of your hair loss? Here are three possible things that may occur to someone developing post-surgical hair loss:

  1. Early Phases (1-4 weeks post-surgery) – Progressive thinning occurs which is diffused around the scalp. This means that there usually isn’t a specific patch of baldness which occurs. For some people, the hair sheds and then grows back to the same density in 6-9 months. This would be the ‘classic recovery’ in TE. 
  2. Mid-Late Phases (2-3 months post-surgery) – In some, hair loss becomes more severe. Thinning hair spreads and the scalp becomes more visible, especially at the crown/middle-top of the head. A person who notices that the shedding rate slows down but at a rate still higher than normal, and hair density still remains sparse, may be developing persistent or chronic TE.
  3. Progression to alopecia – Rarely, the shedding rate eventually goes back to normal but the hair density remains thinner and never quite comes back the same. Such cases could indicate that the hair has progressed into another type of hair loss, such as androgenetic alopecia. Although TE has resolved, meaning that hairs no longer fall out so much, another hair loss condition has taken over. 

To confirm the diagnosis of post-surgical hair loss, your hair restoration doctor will begin a thorough assessment of your scalp by starting with the ‘pull test’. A clump of 50-60 hairs will be gently tugged, and is positive when 10% or more of hairs are removed. High-powered video-dermoscopy gives a high-resolution view of those hair bulbs. If they are of telogen/resting hairs, this confirms a TE diagnosis. Sometimes, blood tests may be ordered to rule out other medical conditions triggering TE.

Hair follicles are actually always in action. They cycle through the resting telogen phase (5-6 weeks), anagen/growth phase (2-6 years), and transitional catagen phase (1-2 weeks). Hair sheds in the telogen phase. Instead of the normal 10% of follicles that are in the telogen phase at any given point in time, there may be 20%-50% of hair follicles in the telogen shedding phase during telogen effluvium.

Any start or stopping of medication, anaesthesia, or stress from surgical procedures can cause the body to accelerate hairs in the anagen phase into the telogen phase.

Treating post-surgical hair in Singapore loss takes a few approaches:

  1. Wait And See – Patience! Most cases of post-surgical TE will usually regrow naturally within a year with the aid of hair stimulators without needing to resort to hair transplant procedures.
  2. Hair Growth Stimulators – Close monitoring of the state of hair fall is crucial. Stimulating hair growth into the anagen phase and created a good scalp environment for growth can be helped with anti-hair fall scalp tonics, hair growth medications like minoxidil, home use low-level laser treatment such as low dose home-use low level laser light therapy or high-dose in-clinic photobiomodulation therapy, and in-clinic scalp treatments.

Don’t fret if you are experiencing post-surgical hair loss and have not yet regained your hair density. Our hair loss professionals at Terra Medical are ready to get started on your journey to a more confident you today!


At Terra Medical

Hair transplantation is considered the only permanent solution to hair loss, with an average 90% success rate. Not just reserved for the hair on your scalp, hair transplantation techniques can also be used for facial hair and to fill in scarred bald patches from traumatic injuries. 

Terra Scalpboosters aim to ‘boost’ your scalp health by injecting a specially concocted cosmeceutical formulation paired with a superior cell-membrane activation technology to stimulate your hair follicles into growing faster, stronger, and healthier. Read on more to find out what it’s all about!

“Autologous Micrograft Transfer” treatment procedure offers a lot of great benefits, which makes this therapy an effective and safe one. One such benefit is that it has minimal downtime! Unlike hair transplant surgery where you may need to set aside 5-7 days before being able to continue most of your daily activities, you will be able to walk out the door right into the next thing on your schedule after a Autologous Micrograft Transfer treatment.

There have been many reviews and studies done on the safety and efficacy of low-level laser light therapy in men and women experiencing hair loss. When the wavelengths of light penetrate the scalp, it stimulates the stem cells that help to ‘communicate’ to the hair follicles for increasing hair growth. The low-level laser also increases blood flow and production of ATP, an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things, and metabolic processes in the cell to deliver more nutrients and oxygen which stimulate faster hair growth. We call this ‘activating’ the hair follicles.

Terra Medical offers array of hair supplements that are clinically proven to improve your hair health. Do ensure to consult our medical practioner if you’re unclear of which to take for optimal improvement. 

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