Teen Underwent Stomach Surgery After Eating Her Hair


  • This Rapunzel not just lets down her hair but eats it.
  • The condition is called Rapunzel syndrome and one young lady had to have surgery to remove the hairball that filled her entire stomach.
  • Rapunzel Syndrome is an extremely rare condition but an individual with this condition can recover with surgery and therapy.

Rapunzel syndrome is a mental health disorder wherein a person eats their own hair.

It is an extremely rare disorder that only has 64 reported cases since 1968.  

This is what happened to a 17-year-old girl in the U.K. who suffered a rare intestinal disorder after she ate her hair.  She had to have surgery to remove a 19-inch-long hairball that filled her stomach and tore through it.

The lady was admitted to the hospital after she fainted twice and got a bruised and swollen face and scalp.  But when doctors noticed her swollen abdomen, they ruled out head injury. She admitted to having sporadic abdominal pains for 5 months.  She said, in the last two weeks, the pain had been increasing.

When a CT scan was ordered, it showed a “grossly distended stomach”.  There was also a large mass inside and the wall was torn.

From there, doctors diagnosed the lady with two rare mental health disorders — trichotillomania or pulling of hair, and trichophagia, the tendency to eat own hair. The disorders cause trichobezoar, or hairball, that filled her entire stomach.

In a lifetime, between 0.5 and 3% of people will develop trichotillomania. From that limited group, 10 to 30% of that group will have trichophagia. And from the two groups, only 1% will have Rapunzel syndrome.

Surgery to remove the hairball and repair her torn stomach wall was done by the doctors. The teen was also provided psychiatric care for her mental disorder.

Study statistics like the journal Pancreas show that most or 90% of those who will have surgery will have no complications and recover well.

As the lady exhibited after a month since the operation, she had no complications and her condition was described as “progressing well with dietary advice.” She also has regular consultations with a therapist. 

Source: PEOPLE

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