Friday, September 22, 2017

Goodbye, Cyndi Lauper

When I first started practicing, any time a patient would have brain surgery, the surgeon would inevitably shave half their head to do the surgery.

I found this practice ridiculous.  The patient would come out of the surgery looking like Cyndi Lauper at her worst.  I have never witnessed anyone who looked good with half their head shaved. (Including Cyndi.)  I always felt like it then fell to us to deal with the remaining hair.

More recently, the trend has changed.  Instead of shaving the whole head, the surgeon will just shave a teeny area at the incision site.  So instead of rocking Cyndi Lauper, the patient looks pretty normal post-surgery.

From a perspective of compassion for people's vanity, I think this is awesome.  I love it.  It's bad enough you have to have brain surgery without losing all your hair and changing your entire appearance.  So I'm glad about this change.

But from the perspective of the doc who has to monitor these incisions, it's so.  Annoying.  Half the time, I have to do a search for several minutes to find the damn incision.  If it started looking worse, it would be really hard to tell.  And digging staples out that are caked in both dried blood and hair is not a fun task.  Shouldn't we put patient safety above hair?

I'm really torn on it, honestly.


  1. Maybe the patient should be more involved in the decision about whether to rock the Cyndi Lauper look or not.
    For me, vanity isn't important. Take half the hair, whatever... but for my sister, her hair is very important.
    I doubt missing half my hair would have a negative impact on my recovery, but it would very likely have a negative impact on her recovery due to the emotional distress and shame.

  2. My hair vanity went away when my hair did. The doc should do what needs to be done to do the job in the best possible way, but I understand the vanity thing. Probably more important to young people.

    1. And the ladies. Not to generalize or anything.

  3. Safety first says the bald seventy five year old...:)

  4. Anything that can be a distraction in the OR is not a good thing. Partially shaved operative sites are in the same class as tattoos - an added distraction.

    Hair on a skin flap during a crani would freak me out and probably impair my patented move of loading two Raney clip appliers at a time.