Can Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss?

It’s common and normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day, even if you’re not prone to male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss.

If you’ve recently undergone surgery, you may have noticed that you’re shedding more hair than normal. 

Part of your scalp that used to have dense hair coverage may begin to show the classic signs of hair shedding, such as diffuse thinning.

Although anesthesia doesn’t appear to cause male pattern baldness, it may contribute to some temporary types of hair loss, such as telogen effluvium.

Below, we’ve discussed the connection between hair loss, surgery and anesthesia, as well as the hair-related symptoms you may experience if you’ve recently undergone surgery using general anesthesia. 

We’ve also covered your options for treating surgery-related hair loss and stimulating optimal hair growth. 

Understanding Anesthesia, Surgery and Hair Loss

Before we get into the specifics of anesthesia and hair loss, it’s important to cover the basics of how you actually lose hair.

While most people associate all hair loss with male pattern baldness, there are actually several different types of hair loss that can affect men. 

Male pattern baldness is a form of permanent hair loss. It occurs when dihydrotestosterone, or DHT — an androgen hormone produced as a byproduct of testosterone — binds to receptors in the scalp and damages the hair follicles.

Most of the time, male pattern baldness begins as a receding hairline or bald patch around the crown. 

Over time, it can worsen into the classic horseshoe pattern of hair around the back and sides of your head, with almost total baldness on your scalp.

Male pattern baldness is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors, and there’s no research to suggest that anesthesia or surgery play any role in this process.

Telogen effluvium, on the other hand, is a form of temporary hair loss that’s caused by changes to your hair growth cycle

Your hair grows through a multi-phase growth cycle. During the anagen phase, hair grows from the hair follicle to its full length. 

This process typically takes between two and six years for hairs on your scalp, or a few months for body hairs.

It then passes through a transitory phase called the catagen phase, followed by a period of rest and shedding called the telogen phase. 

Telogen effluvium occurs when a physiologically stressful event disrupts the hair cycle, causing hairs to enter into the telogen phase prematurely.

As these hairs enter the telogen stage, growth ceases and the hairs eventually shed, resulting in noticeable hair thinning.

A range of issues can trigger telogen effluvium, including metabolic stress, changes in hormone levels, nutritional deficiencies, infections and illnesses that cause fever — any kind of stressful event to the body.

Although there’s no known association between anesthesia and male pattern baldness, there is a known link between major surgery, anesthesia and telogen effluvium.

Common Signs of Telogen Effluvium

Unlike male pattern baldness, which gradually causes a receding hairline or bald patch near the crown, telogen effluvium usually develops as excessive shedding that occurs across your entire scalp. 

If you’re affected by telogen effluvium, you may notice abrupt, sudden loss of hair several months after being placed under anesthesia during surgery.

Most of the time, this hair loss will occur across your entire scalp in a diffuse pattern, giving your hair a thin, low-density appearance. 

You might notice that it’s easier to view your scalp through your hair, especially under bright light or when your hair is wet. 

Telogen effluvium hair loss usually starts to become noticeable two to three months after a specific event, such as surgery or exposure to anesthesia. 

In the months following the causative event but before shedding, your hairs will go into a resting state. 

As the hairs reenter the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, new hairs that grow from the follicles will cause the old hairs to shed, resulting in this sudden, abrupt thinning.

How to Treat Hair Loss From Anesthesia or Surgery

Telogen effluvium is a temporary type of hair loss. Once the underlying cause of your hair loss is identified and treated, your hair will gradually grow back to its normal thickness and density. 

Since telogen effluvium isn’t caused by DHT, hormonal male pattern baldness medications such as finasteride won’t stop it from occurring or improve the hair regrowth process. 

However, a combination of good hair care habits and science-based hair growth products, such as minoxidil, may help to speed up hair regrowth and restore your hair faster. 

Apply Minoxidil to Your Scalp

Although finasteride isn’t effective at treating telogen effluvium, the topical hair loss medication minoxidil may help to stimulate growth and speed up the recovery process.

Minoxidil works by moving hair follicles into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle from the telogen phase, and by stimulating blood supply to your scalp. 

Research suggests that it may help to move hair follicles from the telogen phase into the anagen phase, potentially promoting faster regrowth.

Minoxidil is easy to use. It’s available as a liquid solution or foam and is designed to be applied directly to the areas of your scalp with hair loss.

We offer minoxidil solution and minoxidil foam online. You can learn more about using minoxidil in our guide to applying minoxidil for hair growth

It’s official. Hims is a hit.

Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!  

Bryan, 28

Verified review

After 7 months, I have experienced incredible results and my hair is back.

Tony, 32

Verified review

Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.

Ryan, 29

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Parbhu, 28

Verified review

It has helped boost my confidence as well as give me a full head of hair to play with. I am so pleased.

Michael, 33

Verified review

I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!

Jesse, 36

Verified review

4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.

Giovanny, 23

Verified review

Hims allowed me to walk down the aisle confident and looking great.

Alexander, 32

Verified review

I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.

Brian, 48

Verified review

The results speak for themselves and I recommend it to all of my friends.

Al, 54

Verified review

I notice a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.

Seth, 27

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Milton, 36

Verified review

Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger.

Mike, 34

Verified review

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription-based products. Customers were compensated for their testimonials. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary.

Use a Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo

To control shedding, try to wash your hair using a shampoo that’s formulated to promote growth and prevent hair loss.

Good ingredients to look for in a hair loss prevention shampoo include ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid and saw palmetto.

Our Hair Thickening Shampoo is formulated with saw palmetto to prevent hair loss and promote volume, moisture and optimal growth.

Take Steps to Minimize Stress

Stress can cause and contribute to telogen effluvium, making it important to take it easy if you’re experiencing hair loss as a result of undergoing surgery. 

Simple ways to manage stress include taking time away from work, education or other stressful activities to relax, keeping yourself physically active, eating healthy and spending time with your friends and family.

Our online mental health resources provide more information about dealing with the effects that stress can have on your life and health. 

Eat a Healthy, Nutrient-Rich Diet

Your diet plays a major role in the growth of strong, healthy hair. Certain nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency or low protein intake, can contribute to telogen effluvium and affect your rate of hair growth.

For optimal hair growth, try to eat a healthy diet that consists of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. 

Our guide to the best foods for hair growth lists ingredients to prioritize, including lean proteins, vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Another option is to add a hair growth supplement, such as our Biotin Gummy Vitamins, to your daily routine. This can help to boost your vitamin intake and ensure that you take in many of the nutrients you need for optimal, sustained hair growth. 

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Spray

From £26/month

This spray treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

No-pill option

Hair Hybrids by Hims

The Combination Hair Loss Serum

From £26/month

This serum treatment combines two active ingredients used for treating hair loss and hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment

Finasteride & Minoxidil Combo Kit

From £30/month

This combo kit includes two treatments. The once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss. The alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth.

Important Safety Information

Generic Treatment


From £23/month

This once-daily tablet is clinically proven to stop hair loss.

Important Safety Information

Hair Hybrids by Hims

Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

From £21/month

This alcohol-free topical serum, applied twice daily, is used for hair regrowth

Important Safety Information

Hair Loss From Anesthesia

Although anesthesia and surgery aren’t known to cause male pattern baldness, they can put strain on your head of hair via a temporary form of hair loss called telogen effluvium. 

If you’ve been put under anesthesia in the last few months and have started to notice excessive hair loss, it’s best to take action quickly by limiting stress, eating a healthy, balanced diet and, if you’d like to speed up hair regrowth, using hair growth medication such as minoxidil.

Not sure if you’re experiencing telogen effluvium or permanent hair loss? Our guide to the early signs of balding goes into more detail about the symptoms of male pattern baldness, as well as the steps that you can take to stop your hair loss for good. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

Hair loss treatment for a long term solution

Clinically approved options available

Thousands of happy customers

Get started