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Thread: Dealing with Hair After Surgery

  1. #1
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    Dealing with Hair After Surgery

    Dear Friends,

    May 20th (my surgery date) is coming and what am I thinking about? My hair!

    I would love some wisdom from you post-surgery folks ...

    1. When were you able to wash your own hair for the first time?

    2. Is there a problem with the shampoo getting into the surgery site? If so, how did you manage it?

    3. When could you handle a blow dryer and/or curling iron and make your hair look decent?

    4. How did you deal with dying your hair? I dye my own and then rinse off the dye in the shower. Once again, I'm concerned about the dye getting in contact with the surgery site. Did any of you find a way to work around that obstacle?

    It's so phenomenal that you post-surgery people are willing to share your knowledge with us greenies. I really REALLY appreciate each one of you who is willing to take the time and do this for us.

    Ginger

  2. #2
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    Jan 2008
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    Wisconsin
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    Ginger, I'm so glad you started this thread. I was wondering some of the same questions just today...my surgery is the day after yours.

    This surgery is actually my second one. After my first one, I couldn't shower for about 2 and a half weeks until I went back to see my doctor so he could check the scar. Up until that point I still had dressing on my wound that couldn't get wet.

    Before my surgery, I had a friend put my hair in those little braids like when you go to Jamaica which made my hair really easy to take care of for those weeks that I couldn't shower. I don't think I want to do that this time so I was wondering if anyone had any tips.

    I've heard of waterless shampoo...can that really work though??
    Also, people have recommended using baby powder to get rid of grease.
    Does anybody have any ideas of how I might wash my hair or manage it in some way for those weeks that I can't shower?

    Thanks for all your help everybody!!!!
    20 year old college student
    Pre-op: 3 curves (30-50-30 degrees)
    Spinal Fusion: T4-L1 June 2005
    Broken rod/failed fusion found Jan. 2007
    Revision surgery:May 21, 2008 - Dr Tribus @ UW Hospital in Madison (found only 2 levels fused from previous surgery)

  3. #3
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    iluvmath!, I don't have any suggestions for washing hair... my daughter just did her best and kept it tied back.

    I wanted to ask if your surgeon knows or has a guess as to why your fusion failed.

    My daughter was fused T4-L1 on 26 March and we are trying to be careful about limiting her movement and not taking certain meds and all but I'm wondering if surgeons know the reason why some fusions fail. Does anyone know if is it all empirical guesswork after the fact?

    Thanks in advance.

    sharon

    I worked in Madison for several years and my daughters were born there.
    Last edited by Pooka1; 05-02-2008 at 08:50 AM.

  4. #4
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    near Philadelphia
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    This is exactly the sort of thing I fretted about before my surgery, too!

    I have short bleached-blond hair so before surgery I had it cut VERY short and darkened it back to almost its natural color so I didn't have to worry about roots. On Day 5 or 6 in the hospital, some guy came around with a bucket and tubes and plastic sheeting, offering to shampoo hair for $25 - and even though I was semi-conscious from all the drugs I yelled "Over here!" He covered the end of the bed in a bunch of plastic and somehow managed to wash my hair right there on the bed. To this day I have no idea how he did it. But I felt sooooo much better afterwards. I had a private nurse and she used "Pssst" on my hair after that (the dry shampoo). I didn't get a real shower until I was in rehab, about 10 days after surgery. By then it was okay to let my back get wet but I noticed the nurse did keep shampoo away from the staples and steri-strips.

    Once I was home I had a hairdresser friend come over to the house and trim my hair every few weeks. I wasn't ready for the salon until I was around 5 months post-op, so I'm really glad I didn't have to worry about roots. I felt like a million bucks when I finally went blond again!!!
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  5. #5
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    Ah that reminded me. My daughter did have her hair washed in the hospital. They had an inflatable sink type thing that they used in her bed. She felt great afterwards.

  6. #6
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    I was like Singer, in getting my hair cut really short just before the surgery. It helped tons. But those of you with long locks can manage ok-- just be sure to get it tied back out of the way... This may not be much help, but it worked out ok for me. About the 8th or 9th day in the hospital the occupational therapist helped me wash my hair. We just got a tub of water, used a wash cloth to get it fairly wet, lathered it, and then rinsed it the best we could by dumping water from a glass on it and trying to get the suds out that way. We had a couple of towels around my shoulders and she tried to catch the excess water with the tub. I know that doesn't sound that great, but it sure made me feel good to finally have clean hair. That's how my hubby helped me with it after we got home, too, until I felt like I could try getting into the shower.

    When a different Occ. therapist came to my house, she gave me a sample that I never used, because the other method seemed ok. But they do sell "shampoo caps"-- it's a self-contained gizmo that is an all-in-one, rinse-free shampoo and conditioner, all in a shower type cap. You microwave it for 30 seconds, put it on and massage it for a couple minutes, then take it off and towel dry. I think they work fairly well.

    iluvmath!-- your "baby powder" tidbit flooded me with memories. When I was a teen, my mother (and I hated her for this!) would not let me wash my hair when I had a cold. They used to sell a "dry shampoo" kit at the drugstore that was like baby powder, and you put a little terrycloth piece of fabric over a comb, so that the teeth were out and the terry cloth was at the inside edge of the base. You sprinkled the powder in your hair and rubbed it around, then combed out the powder-- and it brought the oils with it, sticking to the terrycloth. How gross! But it did work better than nothing. I usually just waited till she was gone somewhere and then quickly jumped in the tub and did a REAL wash. Heh heh heh....

    As far as getting my hair dyed... my hubby always helped me before, but we switched to paying to have it done afterward. I haven't figured out how to do it by rinsing it off in the shower, as I think I would make a huge mess (!) but have heard that works for people. You won't be able to bend over the sink to rinse...

    By the time I left the hospital (11 days there) I didn't have any dressing on my incision site-- just the steri-strips. They said it would be ok to get them wet, gently, in the shower. Just not to do anything to them. I know I probably waited another week before taking an actual shower. So when I did take a shower, we patted that area dry very gently. I'm sure the soap just rinsed itself off. We were using the handheld shower head, and it has a very gentle flow of water.

    Good luck! Don't worry too much-- you'll do fine and look ok too.
    63, and feeling better with each year-- Life is good!
    2007 major curve @ 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shiftt
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15-- and Tickled Pink!!!


    Click to view my pics: [url=http://s244.photobucket.com/albums/gg25/SusieB1951/pics%20of%20scoli%20x-rays/,[/url] digital x-rays, and pics of me

  7. #7
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    I was able to shower 10 days after surgery I kept it back in a pontail until I was able to wash it. I washed myself at the bathroom sink until I was able to take a shower. I had my hair highlighted 5 months post op, I probably would have had it highlighted sooner but I wasn't up to because I had too much pain and stiffness from a undetected staph infection from the surgery. Most likely 3 months post op or so you'll lose alot of hair. I had so much hair fall out I was afraid I was going to be bald, but I wasn't, it thinned out alot, it's mostly all grown back now and I am 1 yr & 3 months post op, my hair is long so took a while for the new growing hair to catch up with the rest.

    Sue

  8. #8
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    Southern California
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    Can you lift your hands up to your head?

    this is such a great thread, thanks for asking the question - I am wondering how long it will be before I can raise my hands above my head to fix my hair at all...I blow dry my hair then use a flat iron. I think I may have to deal with my hair being alll curly for a while but I sure want to be able to dry it and flat iron it as soon as I can.
    Susan


    Successful Anterior/Posterior Surgery 7/16/08....T10-L5 in Santa Monica, California
    Owner of a sweet lil Chihuahua who is now getting regular walks

  9. #9
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    I could lift my arms, but they were so weak and tired so easily. I was wearing a brace and needed to put on t-shirts under it... and know I could do that really pretty soon-- like back in the hospital after awhile. You'll have to pick and choose what you want to expend your energy on. And maybe you won't tire as easily as I did. I think it also depends on how high you are fused-- but mine was fairly high-- from T2-L4. Good luck with the hair!
    Last edited by Susie*Bee; 05-02-2008 at 11:47 AM.
    63, and feeling better with each year-- Life is good!
    2007 major curve @ 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shiftt
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15-- and Tickled Pink!!!


    Click to view my pics: [url=http://s244.photobucket.com/albums/gg25/SusieB1951/pics%20of%20scoli%20x-rays/,[/url] digital x-rays, and pics of me

  10. #10
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    Location
    near Philadelphia
    Posts
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    From what I understand, people with thoracic fusions have a harder time lifting their arms to wash their hair than people with lumbar fusions. I was able to shampoo my own hair by the time I got home from rehab (20 days post-op), but I had to sit down in the shower and my husband had to supervise me for a few months (mostly because of my weak leg). I used the hand-held spray to avoid having water beat down on my sensitive scars. I was able to quickly blow-dry my hair even in rehab, as I recall, although it was exhausting (beauty is always worth the extra effort ).
    Chris
    A/P fusion on June 19, 2007 at age 52; T10-L5
    Pre-op thoracolumbar curve: 70 degrees
    Post-op curve: 12 degrees
    Dr. Boachie-adjei, HSS, New York

  11. #11
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    Location
    Southern California
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    Thanks Susie Bee

    I'll be fused T10 to sacrum so (hopefully) from T9 up I'll be semi normal

    My back is so painful now, I have to sit to do makeup and hair anyway, so that probably won't change after I get home.
    Susan


    Successful Anterior/Posterior Surgery 7/16/08....T10-L5 in Santa Monica, California
    Owner of a sweet lil Chihuahua who is now getting regular walks

  12. #12
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    Thanks Chris - I am always interested in what you have to say since my fusion will be similar to yours. The hair thing has really been bugging me! I've already bought the hand-held and installed it in the shower. So yeah, the beauty thing is always worth the effort! gotta plan ahead
    Susan


    Successful Anterior/Posterior Surgery 7/16/08....T10-L5 in Santa Monica, California
    Owner of a sweet lil Chihuahua who is now getting regular walks

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Canada
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    Check out: www.sageproducts.com or www.comfortbath.com

    I was in the hospital for 12 days. This was great for a first wash. It is a shower cap that the nurses can throw into the microwave and you then put it on your head and massage gently. It is a wet shampoo, no need to rinse, just towel dry. It smelled very nice and did a pretty good job. The cap is called the Comfort Personal Cleaning Shampoo Cap. Our hospitals supply them but if in other parts of the world they may not but I imagine you could buy one online.

    I was able to wash my own hair in the shower as soon as the dressings came off on day 14. I was told I didn't have to worry about the shampoo just make sure to rinse well.

    Good luck, we all get through it a day at a time.
    CarolS
    68 degree right lumbar scoliosis, mild kyphosis at L1-2
    Anterior/Posterior Correction, T8 to Sacrum, Sept 20th, 2007
    Osteotomy March 20,2008
    Thrilled with results!

  14. #14
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    Mar 2008
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    loves to skate

    Hi Ginger and all those worried about washing their hair after surgery. I had my hair cut real short before the surgery and stopped coloring my hair about 4 or 5 months before surgery as I knew I wouldn't be able to color it for awhile after surgery. My hair didn't get washed the 5 days I was in the hospital, but after 5 days, I when to a rehab hospital. In the beginning they gave me a dry shampoo which is actually a liquid and you just massage it all over your scalp and then dry it with a towel. I was suprised at how well it worked and my hair is fairly oily. A few days later when the physical therapist got me up to shower, she covered my incisions with plastic sheets and gave me a bunch of them when I went home since I was told not to get the scabs wet. I had scabs on my abdomen for at least a month after the anterior surgery. The sheets had a strip of adhesive on one side and were big enough to drape over the top and sides of the incision. Showering and shampooing then was no problem. I turns out I like my gray hair but while in the hospital when I saw this gray haired woman in the mirror, I barely recognized myself. Maybe that was the effect of the drugs. Good luck ladies, my thoughts are with you.
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
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    I didn't really care how I looked for a good 6 weeks after surgery (really, until I had to go back to work). I couldn't reach my arms above my head to do my own ponytail so my boyfriend learned how to pull back my hair. I was able to do my own ponytail around 3-4 weeks.

    I washed the ends of my hair for the first few weeks when I couldn't reach the crown of my head. Slowly though, I was able to wash more and more of it.

    Also, I have curly hair, and pre-surgery I did my hair by flipping my head over. Clearly that was not an option for awhile, so I had to learn to do my hair another way (I returned to flipping my head about a month ago!).

    I got my hair cut/colored at the salon at about 6-8weeks post op. I brought a pillow with me, and we made it work.

    You'll figure out what works for you, and also will probably realize that not washing your hair as often/thoroughly as you'd like is not as important as you once thought!
    2000 34*L/39*T
    2007 44*L/53*T

    12.3.07 Posterior Spinal Fusion T4-T12
    (initially planned T4-L1)
    12.18.07 11*L/10*T

    23 years old

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