Alopecia areata after craniotomy?

Just curious if any experience hair loss after a craniotomy? It’s been over 8 months since I had a craniotomy to clip my unruptured aneurysm and have been feeling really great, however, about a month ago, my hair started to turn gray and is falling out. It’s getting really bad now, the balding is getting to be obvious. I’m 36 and always had a full head of hair. Did anyone have this issue? Doctor says it’s stress and the anesthesia, I was down for 9 hours because of complication of the Annie location behind the eye and attached to the dura flap. Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

I have seen many here experience the same after a craniotomy. It does get better but takes time...I am going to share your post with the members at BAF ... perhaps some will have some advice for you...wishing you better days ahead ~ Colleen

I didn’t have a craniotomy but I had coiling to fix my ruptured aneurysm. I experienced balding at the base of my skull. Lost a huge patch of hair. Luckily it was underneath, but high ponies were something I couldn’t do, without the spot being noticeable. I ended up going to the dermatologist, who did several cortisone injections. They worked wonders and about a month after, I had 95% regrowth. That was a couple months ago, now I have about 3-4 inches of hair in the former bald spot. It’s super curling, but I don’t care! I thought it can come back purple for all I care as long as it grows back! Best wishes to you. I’m 31 and always had long, beautiful hair as well. It was so tough to deal with after going through something even tougher. It was scary for me too, because I didn’t know when the balding would stop. Have faith. It does stop and your hair will be beautiful again!

I also lost a patch of hair about 3" round. My hubby was brushing my hair in the hospital and he was stunned to see so much hair falling out at once. That was 6 months ago.

Today my “new” hair is about an inch long on that patch and super curly. And, like Tori, I don’t care. My “normal” hair is also really long and fairly straight. The doctors said the hair loss was caused from stress and so many MRI’s. Not sure what caused it. Just happy its growing back!

My hair thinned terribly after craniotomy. It had been tightly braided for surgery. I use Biotin shampoo and conditioner by Millcreek that I get at the Vitamin Shoppe. You can also take biotin tablets. For me the hair stopped falling out. Research biotin on net. Hope this helps. Penny

I had a similar experience to Tori. Mine fell out back of neck area on the left side from eat down. It's where they focused the xray beam(fluroscopy). they do their best to keep them time under the radiation minimal however, my procedure was about 4-5 hours long when it should have only been maybe 2-3 hrs. Mine fell out about 2 weeks after the procedure ( I was going to have the PED stent placed, however they were unable to cross my previous stents struts to deploy the PED- that;s why it took so long, they kept trying to cross, and finally stopped when I had catheter induced spasms in the artery.)

My hair is now several inches long, but like Tori said SUPER curly. So nice, but wish the rest of my hair was like that hehe. And curly hair does not run in my family. So the radiation must have damaged/or changed something to have curly hair grow because, I also months later went in for a cerebral bypass surgery (that also ended up not being complete) but the right side of my head that was shaved, is growing back straight.

Prior to my hair falling out completely bald spot- I had a lot of hair loss/shedding. Made me sad. Also was told due to stress ( Ive rupture in Jan 2013, had stent assisted coiling, then it rebled again in Feb 2013, they put more coils in, had a 6 month f/u angio- Im still at risk of regrowth rupture- was sent to UCLA where they were going to add the PED:pipeline stent, that didnt work, had CTA scan, then had another angio to give neuro better/more specific images so he can see if Id be a good canidate for a bypass surgery, then in June I went for the bypass surgery, but he had a complication w/ my lumbar drain:getting in place:needed a back incision, and then when it was in it wasnt draining as it should-too slow. So he stopped. Now, they want to me to have another diagnostic angio to test out a new software to see if it would help them "see" better- if it works they would want another attempt at the PED, or another option was more coils into my aneurysm and closing off on of my vertebral arteries.

But I have to wait to get my wound healed. After the incomplete bypass surgery, my back incision got infected ( I got staph/cellutits) Had an MRI in the hospital, also remember and xray...

So all this radiation adds up.. it sucks to have to deal with an aneurysm now, but to think later down the road I can be dealing w/ a form of cancer!!

But as they told me: we're trying to save your life now!

I just wish that they would have warned me about the alopecia- when I washed my hair,it came out in huge chunk. Scared me. Luckily it was in just one area, and could be hidden.

Sure they may not know if things come up and they need to extend the time under radiation- but afterwards they can say hey- just be aware this may or may not happen because the extra time(complications) we had to spend for the procedure...your hair may fall out!!

some links:

I agree! I wish they would tell you. My doctor’s said they had never seen this before and it made me feel crazy. It would have helped so much, if they could have warned me. Instead of me freaking out in the shower while handfuls of hair were falling out.

Yep!.. sorry about my rant above.

My point is we don't really realize how much stress our body/mind goes through

and then all the radiation that we may get from the procedures

BUT they can do a better job at informing the patients beforehand, and even after

so we are more aware of what is going on


I found this:

Physician-patient communication before and after interventional fluoroscopy

Operators should always ask the patient about any previous history of interventional fluoroscopy before undertaking another procedure. It is important to communicate the details of the procedure, patient dose, and immediate and potential long-term health effects to patients and their primary care providers.

Before procedure

Patients should be counseled on radiation-related risks, as appropriate, along with the other risks and benefits associated with the procedure. If patients are likely to have multiple interventional fluoroscopy procedures in a short period of time, they should be informed if there is a possibility that significant radiation exposures may accompany these procedures and may cause potential short-term and long-term radiation-related health effects.

After procedure

After a procedure, the measured or estimated radiation dose should be reviewed (Miller 2004), and appropriate steps should be taken to insure adequate patient follow-up:

  • Schedule a follow-up visit 30 days after the procedure for all patients who received a radiation skin dose of 2 Gy or more or a cumulative dose of 3 Gy or more.
  • Send the interventional fluoroscopy procedure description, operative notes, doses and information about possible short-term and long-term effects to the patient's primary care provider.
  • The patient and primary care physician should be specifically requested to notify the operator if observable skin effects occur.

I got some premature gray where they rolled the skin back on the skull, and some thinning, but not bad. I'm not complaining, I am alive and well!

Here is a little hint that I have found useful. Ask your Doctor/ Surgeon for a copy of the reports. After all, it is your body and you do have the right to have a copy. It comes in handy if you see another Doctor or you have questions. I have done this many time as I do travel.

My hair was already thinning where they made the incision. It turned grey there, but I'm of an age to start being grey. Three years later and it seems to be growing in darker, less grey.

It’s normal to have hair loss after any surgery, hormonal change (childbirth), or trauma. I’m at 3 mos. after a long craniotomy & it’s coming out alarmingly. I’m hoping it’ll be like after having babies, where the loss slows by 6 mos. & it eventually regrows. I hadn’t thought about the radiation, too; I agree that’s likely a factor. Just another way this whole thing sucks, but you’re not alone.

I too had a craniotomy and experienced quite a bit of hair loss that was spread throughout my head. I have also been taking biotin and I am using a product called Nioxin. It has helped me tremendously. My hair is coming back in and starting to look full and healthy again. Have a lot more gray than I did before, I am now considering dying it. :)

Take Care,

~ Carol

I had a craniotomy also and i was so sad about the amount of hair i lost I loved my hair. I did the Rogaine and it is working it has helped. I just thought I would share may not work for everyone but it did for me. It has been 2 yrs now. I still use it on and off.

I wish the doctors had told me also so I did not freak out from the shock of it. dermatologist told me to get biotin, too...have been taking the pills for years...

I never got back the normal volume of hair I had... One of our newer members (my memory blank on names) suggested another shampoo available at the Vitamin Shoppe ...did get it and the conditioner and some minor spray...I have been using that for over a month and have not found a specific change...I will talk to my local Vitamin Shoppe.. .

I. Also use a voluminizing spray for blow out by Aveda. Red kin makes a hairspray that contains a small bit of wax that helps.

My aneurysms were found when I was having my first Gamma Knife Radiation treatment for my AVM. I was told I would NOT lose hair from the GK Radiation. I had the crani to clip my aneurysms one month after the GK. About the time the shaved section from the crani started growing & sticking straight out, I started losing a good sized patch of hair where the radiation was focused and some overall thinning. No hair loss after GK #2, but did after GK #3 & #4.

My hairdresser did tell me that anesthesia often causes hair loss and suggested I take biotin. I am now 3 years post crani & GK #1; 2 years post GK #3. My hair was starting to recover, but still wasn't as thick as it formerly had been when I found out I had to have another radiation treatment in June. Luckily my tiny bald spot (and larger really thing spot) is covered by the rest of my hair.

Mamika..thank you for this ...can you provide the website?

I quickly scanned Pub Med...and, Miller is a common name...


Thanks everyone for chiming in. Your post gave me a lot of relief. My neurosurgeon says it was not the surgery and recommended I follow-up with my primary. Primary says it the stress from the surgery and possible the anesthesia (9 hours is a long time). I feel very blessed to have found the annie and treat it before it rupture and given everything, can't complain about my health condition now. I have a dermatology appointment soon and will post updates when I get them. I really appreciate everyone providing any insight that why I love this page. Even the littlest information help, please keep it up. Thanks again!!


Yes, I had a craniotomy in which my twice ruptured aneurysm( initial rupture Jan.1 2003,second rupture Jan.2 2003 )occuring 10 minutes after Doctor Zabramski ,Barrows Neurological, began blood cleanup, (vacuming). As he readied me for surgery , drawing with black marker, incision locations etc., explained he would shave the complete left side of my head and apologized ,as my hair was very long. No problem, what so ever! 11 days induced coma, I was awakened by ICU Nurse shampooing my head! AHHHH! Long story short , GET THIS, I had ALL my hair except a half inch wide path from my center forhead to center crown and a curved line down to left ear!!!!!(I LOVE YOU DR. ZABRAMSKI)!!!!!! They shared with me that they use a special shampoo for all cranial surgeries, NIOXIN! It is a bit expensive and I have found that(Walmart Hair Salon) and ULTA carry it!!! IT WORKS!!!!! I continue to lose hair daily beyond the norm, but never spot balding or the like!!! Patience of course. In small amount of time you WILL SEE A DIFFERENCE!!! Love to you ALL !! BELIEVE!!! MIRACLE SURVIVOR!!! GREAT PRODUCt!!