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Hair Sparing Brain Surgery: June 15, 2012

Never underestimate a woman’s attachment to her hair. 

“I love my blond hair and I think it’s something that when I walk in a room that people notice.”

In sickness and in health, women have a solid attachment to their hair.

“I believe it’s my strongest feature.”

“I try not to shave any hair at all if I can and then if I do shave some hair, it’s very minimal,” says Lee Memorial Health System neurosurgeon Dr. Dean Lin.

Traditionally, brain surgery started with a clean surface, a shaved head, making the operation much more traumatizing for women. 

“For women with longer hair this would take months and months to grow back, and it’s a big deal,” says Dr. Lin.  He embraces hair-sparing techniques.

“There have been numerous studies that have shown really there’s not much difference in the infection rate. In fact, it’s the same whether you shave or you don’t shave,” says Dr. Lin.

There are still valid concerns about keeping the surgical area sterile and germ-free.  Surgeons developed a protocol that includes sterilizing the hair. 

“We scrub it with Betadine, which is has been used for decades as a surgical sterilization technique. We spend a fair amount of time sterilizing it and then using a sterile comb to comb the hair out of the way, says Dr. Lin.

Keeping the hair intact requires work on the patient’s side as well. To lower the risk of infection at the surgical site, there is no shampooing for several days. After that, it’s strictly baby shampoo and no hair products until the doctor clears it.

It’s a small price to avoid losing something for near and dear.