Does Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss: Here's Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

It is usual for individuals to lose 50 to 100 hairs daily, irrespective of male pattern baldness or hair loss issues.

However, if you've recently undergone surgery, you may have observed an increase in hair shedding and may wonder: Does anesthesia cause hair loss? 

The area of your scalp that was once densely covered in hair may begin to display indications of hair loss, such as diffuse thinning

Although anesthesia does not cause male pattern baldness, it can contribute to temporary hair loss, such as telogen effluvium. 

Hence, in this article, we will examine the correlation between hair loss, surgery, and anesthesia and the hair-related symptoms you may encounter following general anesthesia surgery.

We will also discuss your alternatives for addressing surgery-related hair loss and promoting optimal and natural hair growth.

Does anesthesia cause hair loss?

does anesthesia cause hair loss

No, anesthesia does not directly cause hair loss. However, the stress from surgery or a significant medical procedure, which often involves anesthesia, can lead to a temporary hair loss condition called telogen effluvium. This condition usually resolves on its own within a few months as the body recovers from the stressor. If you experience hair loss after surgery, it's important to consult your healthcare provider to determine the cause and discuss potential treatments.

Surgery, often performed under general anesthesia, can cause physical and emotional stress, leading to hair loss known as telogen effluvium (TE). Hence, describing it as post-surgery hair loss rather than post-anesthesia hair shedding would be more appropriate.

Fortunately, it's important to note that not everyone who undergoes surgery will experience hair loss. In fact, most cases of hair loss following surgery are temporary and typically occur within three to six months of the procedure. 

Additionally, individuals who experience hair loss due to surgery often notice their hair growing back within six to twelve months without the need for any intervention.

Therefore, while hair loss following surgery can be a concern, it's usually not a cause for long-term worry.

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What is telogen effluvium? 

Telogen effluvium hair loss is a condition characterized by increased or excessive hair shedding due to more hair follicles resting than usual. 

Typically, about 90% of the hair follicles on the scalp are in the growth phase, with only 10% in the resting phase, ultimately resulting in hair shedding. However, in individuals with telogen effluvium, more hair follicles enter the resting and shedding phases, leading to excessive hair shedding and thinning hair.

Various factors, including surgery, certain medications, illnesses like COVID-19, and mental stress, can prematurely cause hair follicles to enter the resting phase.

It may take two to three months after this phase shift before noticeable hair loss occurs, as the hair won't shed immediately. 

However, it's important to note that telogen effluvium is usually temporary and often resolves within six months, with normal hair growth returning. Nevertheless, hair loss symptoms may recur if triggered again, such as after another surgery.

Things that can cause telogen effluvium after surgery

The following are a few factors causing telogen effluvium post-surgery:

1. Stress

Surgery-related hair loss is common, as surgery puts the body and mind under significant stress. The American Skin Association states that hair loss after a major stressful event such as surgery is likely to occur within 3 to 6 months.

Hair growth requires essential nutrients such as biotin, collagen, iron, zinc, and protein. A stressful event such as surgery may divert these nutrients from your hair follicles, leading to hair thinning and telogen effluvium (TE).

Physical and emotional stress, such as illnesses or surgery, can trigger hair follicles to move from the growth phase to the resting stage. Likewise, psychological or emotional stress can cause TE or sudden hair loss as well. 

However, reducing physical and mental stress can allow hair follicles to return to regular growth patterns, promoting new hair growth.

2. Positional alopecia

Hair loss caused by prolonged head positioning during surgery is known as positional alopecia, although uncommon. The lack of blood flow to hair follicles caused by this positioning can be a contributing factor. 

This form of hair loss is not typically observed in shorter surgeries, as the head is not in the same position for a prolonged period. Research has shown that positional alopecia is most commonly reported in cardiac surgeries. 

However, it can also occur after extensive reconstructive surgeries, requiring patients to remain in one position for an extended period.

3. Type of surgery and recovery period

Hair loss following surgery may be more likely after procedures performed on the head, as the stress and trauma from a major surgery can directly impact the skin and hair follicles on the scalp. 

Additionally, patients who require more extended recovery periods involving bed rest or limited head movement may also be at a greater risk of experiencing it. 

This is because the pressure of lying in bed with the head resting on a pillow can alter blood supply to the scalp and disrupt hair growth, known as positional or pressure alopecia.

4. Anesthesia

Larry S. Nichter, MD, FACS, a plastic surgeon from Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery, states that there may be a connection between hair loss and anesthesia, especially during longer surgeries, although the link remains controversial. 

Extensive anesthesia is suspected to result in slower cell division, which could inhibit hair follicle growth, leading to TE-related hair fall. However, this has yet to be supported by clinical studies.

Moreover, the type of anesthesia utilized may also contribute to hair loss. A 2012 research review discovered that hypotensive anesthesia, usually used in maxillofacial surgeries, might increase the risk of positional alopecia. 

Meanwhile, a 2015 research review indicates that while not tolerated by all patients, hypotensive anesthesia is still used during specific surgeries such as dental surgery to reduce blood loss.

5. Medication side effects

Hair loss is a potential side effect of various medications, including some prescribed after surgery. In addition to the telogen phase, certain medications can cause a different type of hair loss called anagen effluvium, which affects not only the hair on your scalp but also your eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair. 

Common medications that may cause hair loss include anticoagulants (blood thinners), beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, anti-seizure drugs, some antidepressants, and oral contraceptives or birth control pills.

Will hair loss from anesthesia grow back?

Typically, the telogen phase is temporary, and the hair loss resulting from anesthesia and surgery is not permanent, unlike male pattern baldness. In most cases, hair will regrow naturally. However, for some individuals, other factors, such as certain medical conditions or genetic predispositions, may hinder or delay the return of average hair growth.

How to treat hair loss from anesthesia or surgery?

1. Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine

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The 3-Step Hair Growth Routine by Scandinavian Biolabs is a set of products designed to help reduce hair thinning, encourage new hair growth, and maintain strong hair. 

It contains plant growth factors developed through stem cell technology to nurture damaged hair follicles, catering to post-surgery hair loss. The Bio-Pilixin Serum has been clinically tested with a high satisfaction rate.

Each product contains specific ingredients like niacinamide to improve blood flow, aloe vera to hydrate the scalp and improve hair strength, an amino acid complex to support hair shaft integrity, vanillyl butyl ether to stimulate blood flow to hair follicles, and zinc PCA to regulate sebum without irritating the skin.

The product is made with high-quality, science-backed ingredients that are 100% vegan and inspired by nature. Each component is evaluated by a third-party lab for quality, and many are naturally derived or produced to mimic natural molecules.

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2. Minoxidil

Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is a topical treatment that promotes hair growth by direct application on the scalp or via oral consumption to stimulate hair follicles. 

It is approved for treating androgenic alopecia in both men and women, commonly known as male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss, respectively. 

Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence that minoxidil helps with TE-related hair loss, some people may still use it as a proactive measure. It may help support hair growth, and people may find it beneficial to try something that could help them grow their hair back.

3. Finasteride

excessive hair loss

Finasteride is a medication primarily used to treat male pattern baldness by inhibiting the hormone that causes hair loss.

While there is some evidence that finasteride can help with hair regrowth after surgery, there is currently no conclusive scientific evidence to support this claim. 

Additionally, finasteride is not FDA-approved for use in women and may have potential side effects. As with any medication, consulting with a healthcare professional before starting finasteride or any other treatment is essential.

4. Get plenty of sleep

Dr Michael May, the director of Wimpole Clinic, recommends that individuals who experience hair loss after surgery prioritize getting adequate sleep daily. Lack of sleep can lead to stress, which can exacerbate hair loss. 

Sufficient sleep is also essential for optimal cell regeneration. To achieve restorative sleep, setting bedtime reminders and avoiding screens before bed is recommended.

5. Eat a nutritious diet

food for hair growth

Eating a healthy diet that includes foods rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is crucial for strong and healthy hair growth.

Nutritional deficiencies like iron deficiency or low protein intake can contribute to telogen effluvium and impact the rate of hair growth. So, it's crucial to maintain a well-balanced diet to promote optimal hair growth.


Hair loss is a common side effect of surgery, and the recovery process can take time. Telogen effluvium (TE) is a form of hair loss that can occur after surgery due to physical and emotional stress on the body. 

While TE is often temporary, and the hair will eventually grow back, there are steps you can take to help support hair growth and reduce hair thinning. 

This includes maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, managing stress levels, and considering using hair growth products such as minoxidil or the 3-step Scandinavian Biolabls hair growth routine. 

It's also important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your needs. With the proper care and attention, you can help support healthy hair growth and regain confidence after surgery.


Can anesthesia cause permanent hair loss? 

No, anesthesia is not known to cause permanent hair loss, like male pattern baldness. However, some medical conditions or genetics can slow or prevent the return of normal hair growth.

How long does hair loss after surgery usually last? 

Usually, after surgery, telogen effluvium (TE) hair loss is temporary, and your hair will grow back within 6-12 months. However, it may take longer in some cases.

Is there anything I can do to prevent hair loss after surgery? 

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent hair loss after surgery. However, ensuring that you get adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding stress may help minimize the risk of hair loss.

Can medications such as finasteride or minoxidil help with hair loss after surgery? 

While there is no scientific evidence that minoxidil can help with hair regrowth after surgery, finasteride may be helpful in some cases. However, consulting with a healthcare professional before taking any medications is essential.



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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.