Is It Normal to Lose Hair After Surgery?

Is It Normal to Lose Hair After SurgeryThe number of elective surgeries performed in 2012 grow to just over 1.6 million, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (i). Many more emergency, exploratory, and transplant surgeries were also performed, amounting to millions of procedures over the course of a single year. These procedures entail a certain degree of emotional stress and strain for both patient and family, particularly when the margin for error is slim.

Recently, patients have begun to ask a startling question: Why does hair loss occur after a surgical procedure?

Does Surgery Cause Hair Loss?

In short, surgery does not cause hair loss. Rather, hair loss is a result of the immense emotional and physical stress that surgery may inflict upon the patient. This type of stress-induced hair loss is referred to as telogen effluvium, and it differs drastically from androgenetic alopecia, or pattern baldness, in a couple key ways.

First, telogen effluvium is not inherited. Unlike telogen effluvium, genetics play a large role in determining whether or not an individual will experience pattern baldness as they age. On the other hand, telogen effluvium is typically triggered by an incredibly stressful incident. Car accidents, major life transitions, and even surgical procedures are all good examples of inciting incidents that might trigger the onset of telogen effluvium.

Second, telogen effluvium is not permanent. Whereas cases of pattern baldness are permanent unless treated via hair transplant surgery or non-surgical hair restoration, telogen effluvium might subside as the individual recovers from the stressful situation. Treatment is still recommended, however, for patients who wish to have their hair restored quickly and naturally.

Though fundamentally different, both hair loss conditions can be effectively treated with a variety of non-surgical and surgical procedures.

Treating Hair Loss After Surgery

Preventative Care. Physicians like to remind patients of the age-old adage, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, taking steps to eat well, exercise often, and mitigate daily stress can go a long way in preventing the onset of hair loss after surgery. Still, there is always a chance that the physical stress of a surgical procedure will trigger hair loss.

Non-surgical Hair Restoration. Rogaine® (Minoxidil) is a very effective non-surgical method of hair restoration. A topical application, Rogaine has been shown in clinical trials to slow, and sometimes revers, the balding process in men and women.

Surgical Hair Restoration. Follicular unit extraction (FUE) procedures are among the fastest and most effective means of restoring areas of balding scalp. Following a thorough exam and consultation, a highly specialized surgeon will designate a donor area from which clusters of individual follicular units (hairs) will be extracted. Hairs are then transplanted, unit-by-unit, to carefully restore the natural appearance of  the bald area. For more information, readers are invited to visit the Hair Transplant Institute online to learn more about hair restoration techniques.

Find a Physician

At the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami, our team understands the many ways in which hair loss can adversely affect personal, social, and professional life. Our Institute is home to South Florida’s finest hair transplant surgeons, nurses, microscopists, and technicians. We offer our patients the most comprehensive hair loss treatment methodology, along with advanced technologies like the ARTAS® System by Restoration Robotics™.

To learn more about hair loss diagnosis and treatment, schedule a hair loss evaluation online or contact our office directly at 877.443.9070.


(i) “Statistics.” The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Accessed 17 July 2013.