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Hair loss after Bariatric surgery or weight-loss treatment

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

Hair loss after weight loss surgery
Hair Loss After Bariatric Surgery

Hair loss can be a scary topic to discuss. Although hair loss can happen after bariatric surgery, it is not permanent, and your hair will grow back. So why does this happen and what can you do to achieve great weight loss results and still have great hair?

The hair loss associated with weight loss surgery is called “telogen effluvium” and has to do with the normal hair growth cycle. It usually starts abruptly and very seldom lasts longer than 6 months.

Why does it happen and how long does your hair fall out after #bariatric surgery?

Research has shown that the physiological stress resulting from major surgery and from rapid weight loss can cause the body to shift nutrients towards vital organs such as the heart and brain and away from cosmetic functions such as hair growth. Although hair is important to us, it is not to the body. As a result, the hair growth phase could temporarily stop and the dormant state or resting phase set in, causing some hair loss to occur. Most commonly occurs at 3-5 months post-op. This is important because the hair in the resting phase at the time of surgery is most likely the hair you will shed. This is why your hair sheds between 1 to 6 months after surgery (usually about 3 to 4 months).

When the hair starts to grow again the old hair follicle is released and you lose hair. Sometimes the hair comes out before new hair grows.

What is human hair growth cycle ?

Human hair has a three-stage growth cycle. The growth phase is called “Anagen” and 90% of our hair follicles are in this phase at any given time. Followed by “Catagen”, which last for 1-2 weeks wherein hair follicle detach from blood supply. The resting phase is called “Telogen”, which lasts about 1 to 6 months, with an average of 3 months and during this stage hair loss happens. About 5-15% of our hair is in the resting phase at any given time. The normal hair growth is around 1.25 centimetre or 0.5 inch per month or about 15 centimetres or 6 inch per year.

Will your hair grow back after bariatric surgery ?

Yes , as the body adjusts to the changes, the hair loss will decrease and then stop. Hair should grow back as normal as long as there are no nutrient deficiencies and you are consuming adequate protein.

Common Reasons for Hair Loss After #BariatricSurgery ?

  • #Surgery, acute illness, trauma

  • Chronic disease such as liver disease or any chronic debilitating disease

  • #Hormonal imbalance such as hypothyroidism

  • #Crash dieting, low protein intake, anorexia, chronic iron deficiency

  • Heavy metal toxicity

  • Medications such as beta-blockers, excess vitamin A and anticoagulants

So, what we have here are a few things that may be affecting people with hair loss. It starts with surgery, very low-calorie intake and possibly low protein intake. Then you add any illness along the way, an underactive thyroid, iron deficiency, or genetics and you get hair loss of about 5-15% of your hair follicles.

Other nutrients implicated in hair loss include zinc, biotin, folate, vitamin B-6 and essential fatty acids. If no deficiency of these nutrients exists, then they will likely be of little use.

#Hair Loss preventing tips

· Relax and don’t worry. It is natural hair loss of 5-15% of your hair due to the stress of surgery and weight loss. It rarely lasts more than 6 months. It grows back. Visit your primary care doctor to be evaluated for any illness or non-nutritional reason for hair loss such as thyroid disease or other chronic illnesses.

· #, protein, protein! Our program emphasizes the need for protein from the initial appointment throughout the duration of the band. Protein is the building block of all cells, including the cells that make up your hair. Failing to meet our recommendation of 60g/day minimum per day could leave you with thinning hair as well as less satiety. Make sure you consume lean protein foods at each and every meal. This includes skinless chicken, lean red meat, grilled/baked fish, low-fat string cheese and cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans, protein bars, chia seeds, and flax. If you are a vegetarian, it is important to pair different vegetarian protein options at each meal to supply all of the necessary amino acids. Examples include beans, peas, quinoa, chia seeds and soy. We suggest a protein supplement that is low in sugar.

· Take a bariatric specific multi-vitamin with adequate B vitamins, folate, zinc and biotin. Don’t forget your B12 and calcium citrate with vitamin D supplements.

· Iron matters. Have your iron levels checked if you are still losing hair at seven months after surgery. Iron is the micronutrient most commonly related to hair loss. Ferritin levels are indicative of iron storage in the body and low ferritin levels are commonly associated with hair loss. Ask your dietitian or doctor to check your ferritin levels if you think yours may be low. Symptoms of iron anemia include fatigue, pale skin, weakness and inability to regulate body temperature. Iron rich food sources include red meat, egg yolks, dark leafy greens, beans/peas/legumes and iron-enriched cereals. Include a vitamin C rich food when eating foods high in iron and the iron will be absorbed better.

· Try zinc. If you've tried tips 1-3 and you are still losing hair, consider adding additional zinc to your diet. Zinc is an important factor for the growth and development of healthy hair. Be sure to speak with your dietitian or doctor before starting a zinc supplement as excessive amounts of zinc can cause serious side effects. Oysters, red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other nutrients associated with hair health include vitamin A, folate, B-6 and essential fatty acids. Hair loss can also be caused by systemic diseases, including thyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and is influenced by genetics.

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