Although hair loss after illness or surgery is a common occurrence, many people are not aware of this problem until it happens to them. Rarely are they warned in advance of the possibility of losing large amounts of hair after dealing with illness or surgery. Because the increased shedding begins two to three months later, the association may be overlooked.
The most common type of hair loss that occurs after illness or surgery is telogen effluvium. These conditions can create a shock to the system. The hair growth cycle, being very sensitive, thrives on balance and equilibrium. It does not like to be disturbed. Any change, imbalance or stressor that forces the body to have to adapt can cause telogen effluvium. When this happens the normal hair growth cycle that is delicately balanced between growing hairs, resting hairs and shedding hairs becomes disrupted.
In the normal hair growth cycle approximately 85% of hairs are in the growing stage. The other 15% are in the resting / shedding stage. With telogen effluvium a higher percentage of hairs start to retreat to the resting stage where they will be shed approximately three months later. The longer the condition lasts, the more the ratio changes.
When the illness is acute, meaning it comes on suddenly and is short-lived, the shedding will return to normal within several weeks to six months maximum. The thinning will hardly be noticeable to others. A long-repeating internal imbalance can cause prolonged surrendering and severe thinness that is noticedable to others. The condition is then known as chronic telogen effluvium.
When surgery is involved, this creates another shock to the system. Whether surgery is due to a medical disorder or a broken bone, hair loss can occur.
Anesthesia, medications and additional medical procedures are also known to cause hair loss. Antibiotic use that is necessary for illness and surgery can cause other undesirable conditions that can cause hair loss if one does not restore beneficial intestinal flora that was destroyed through antibiotic use. All of these components can contribute to the occurrence of telogen effluvium.
The more complicated the condition and procedures are, the more likely one may develop telogen effluvium. Some people are more prone to this condition than others. Once a person develops telogen effluvium they are more likely to experience it again when another opportunity presents itself.
If a person is otherwise active, healthy, fit, youthful, well nourished, and emotionally well, the hair growth cycle will have an easier time restoring itself. If other physical or emotional ailments exist when telogen effluvium begins, the condition may persist longer and become more severe. Our built-in healing system is based on priorities. It will not bother trying to grow hair when it has to re-establish balance in other areas.
The best defense against illness or surgery related telogen effluvium is to take the time to fully heal and recover. The body will need extra nourishment during this time, especially if medications are being used, as certain medications are known to deplete a variety of nutrients that are necessary for healthy hair growth.
We live in a society that does not often honor taking the time for proper healing after illness and surgery. Being good to oneself and getting lots of rest, pampering and nourishment should not be considered a luxury. Not only is it necessary, it will also decrease the chances of long-lasting telogen effluvium and other possible complications.