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According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), it is common to lose hair for 3-6 months after surgery.
Though the reasons for this are unknown, hair loss after bariatric surgery is not permanent, and follicles do re-grow after some time. To make sure your hair grows back again and to prevent thinning of hair, take ample quantities of vitamins and minerals and protein.
What Causes Hair Loss After Weight Loss Surgery?
- Reports suggest that post bariatric surgery hair loss is common but not the cause for baldness.1
- Bariatric surgery limits the absorption of nutrients.
- Eventually human body prioritizes vital organs over hair; therefore lack of nutrients to hair follicle results in hair loss.
- Weight loss surgery can trigger telogen effluvium which is the most common type of hair loss. It may have nutritional or non-nutritional causes. Watch out for these symptoms of malnutrition after gastric bypass surgery.
- Anesthesia too may cause the patient’s hair to shift into the telogen phase.
- This implies up to 30% more hair loss post bariatric surgery for 2 to 3 months.
- Thus as a weight loss surgery patient, one may experience hair loss due to stressors like major surgery, anesthesia and rapid weight loss.
- There is very little evidence which supports that early hair loss prevention is possible after weight loss surgery.
- While early hair loss is usually an indicator of both trauma and nutritional deficiency, hair loss which exceeds 6 months or a year implies only nutritional imbalance.
- A patient is advised to go for a 6 week/6 month/annual post-op blood work for proper assessment.
Growing Back of Hair
- As hair follicles are not damaged in telogen effluvium phase they should grow back eventually. 2
- Doctors advise their patients to keep a positive attitude and maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
DO NOTE that in case there is no nutritional issue, the hair that is in telogen phase will continue to fall out. Any excess hair loss does not exceed six months in absence of nutritional issues, which brings forth rapid weight loss and stress of surgery as main reasons for hair loss.
- Hair should re-grow as the patient heals from the trauma over time and continues to maintain proper nutrient balance after surgery.
- One of the best ways to prevent continued hair loss is to maximize nutrition. Here’s how you can cope with hair loss after bariatric surgery.
- A minimum of 60 to 75 gm of protein per day is required to heal rapidly and ensure proper bodily functions.
- Do include vitamins and minerals supplements in your diet.
Following are the symptoms of hair loss arising out of nutritional causes:
- Hair continues to fall for more than a year after surgery.
- Blood tests indicate low levels of iron, zinc or protein.
- Difficulty in tolerating protein-rich foods, vitamins and mineral supplements.
Always stay positive in your weight loss journey!
- Dorothy McFadden, RD, LDN; Bariatric Surgery and Weight Loss; https://www.slhn.org/docs/pdf/bariatric_surgery_and_hair_loss.designed.pdf
- Weight-loss Surgery, Nutrition and Hair Loss by Jacqueline Jacques, ND http://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/weight-loss-surgery/weight-loss-surgery-nutrition-and-hair-loss
- “Bariatric Surgery FAQs.” American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, https://asmbs.org/patients/bariatric-surgery-faqs