Of all the side effects that bariatric patients might face after the operation, hair loss is one of the most irritating ones. Of course, the main reason people undergo any type of weight loss surgery is to regain their health, but the importance of one’s appearance is undeniable for patients, which is why hair loss is one of their biggest concerns. 

Hair loss occurs for many reasons with or without surgery. But each time you face this problem, first you need to find its reason, otherwise, treatment is almost impossible.

What you will read in this blog post is all the possible reasons for hair loss after weight loss surgery, a more common type of hair loss, alongside the solutions that will help you get rid of it and feel better about yourself. 

Gastric Bypass/Gastric Sleeve and Hair Loss

Sudden hair loss after surgery usually happens when patients undergo more serious surgery types such as and gastric bypass and gastric sleeve operation. 

About 30 to 40% of obese patients experience an incidence of hair loss to some extent due to the extreme changes in patient’s eating habits, nutrition absorption, and most importantly rapid weight loss. This condition mostly happens in younger women.

Do Gastric Banding Patients Experience Weight Loss?

Since the weight loss process is more gradual in the case of lap-band procedure patients, there is 0 or little chance of hair loss among them. However, other conditions such as a feeling of psychological stress also increase the rate of hair loss. So, there is a chance that some gastric band patients experience hair loss.

Lap-Band patients, however, lose weight gradually and have less risk of hair loss. This is because they lose weight at a slower rate when compared to other bariatric surgery patients, and don’t suffer from a high level of nutrient deficiency.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium, or telogen phase, is when your hair suddenly starts to fall due to mental stress or any other reason. Excessive hair loss after sleeve gastrectomy or other types of bariatric surgery is included in this type of hair fall.

In order to understand the hair growth cycle, let’s take a look at this picture:

Hair Growth Cycles

 

As you can see, hair growth consists of three stages. The first stage is the anagen phase, that is, the growth phase of hair. The second stage is catagen, the transition stage of hair to telogen. The third stage is telogen, that is, the falling also called the resting, stage of hair.

For a scalp that is not experiencing hair loss about 5-15% of our hair is in the resting phase at any given time.

At least 5% to 15% of each individual’s hair is in the resting phase. This stage lasts an average of 6 months.

The hair that falls out after operation for weight loss is most likely your hair that is in the resting phase. But don’t worry, you will have full hair regrowth.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Malabsorption and reduction in food intake after weight loss operation makes your body prioritize the number of nutritions it gets. So, the majority of nutritional resources you get into your body go to more vital organs like your heart and brain and less will be left for the health of other parts like your hair.

According to a study published on National Library of Medicine, most hair loss patients had low levels of zinc and iron. Another study found out younger women and people with lower levels of Zinc, Vitamin B9 (folic acid), and protein have more potential for hair loss. Also, people with weaker medical conditions must be more careful with their diet.

How to Stop Hair Loss After Bariatric Surgery

As you saw in the previous section, what you eat and the nutrition your body receives directly affect the loss of hair after operation. So, among all hair loss treatments, the first step is to make sure your body is getting what it needs. 

Remember, there are for sure other resources that are rich in these nutrients, but these are the ones that fit your post-op diet. However, it is best if you consult with your dietitian.

The below-mentioned resources are necessary for the growth of your hair. You can see lack of them results in.

Nutritions Signs of Malnutrition Supplements
Iron It causes hair loss mostly in the form of thinning hair. Iron Supplements: Lean meats, eggs, green leafy vegetables, molasses, dried fruits, and grains are good foods for your iron-rich diet.
Zinc It causes hair loss mostly in the form of thinning and brittle hair. Zinc supplement: Fish, oysters, wheat germ, almonds, milk, and eggs are both good for your diet and rich in zinc
Protein It causes post-bariatric hair loss mostly in the form of thinning hair, change of color, dry hair. Protein Supplements: Red meat, lean white meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, you prefer protein-rich foods
Copper Lack of copper results in thinning hair or a change of color. Copper Resources: Spinach, parsley, fennel, eggplant, sunflower seeds, pumpkin, lentils, cabbage, basil, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, walnuts, liver, and tofu
Vitamins A & C Brittle hair is the main result of low levels of Vitamins A & C. Vitamins A & C Resources: Lemon, green and red pepper, tomato, arugula, parsley, lettuce, orange, tangerine, strawberry, kiwi pineapple, and grapefruit
Niacin (Vitamin B3) It causes noticeable hair loss mostly in the form of thinning hair. Vitamin B3 Resources: Meat, fish, liver, all poultry, legumes, and green leafy vegetables are rich in niacin

How Long Will Post-Op Hair Fall Last?

Hair fall mostly starts a short while after the major surgery and continues up to 4 months, in some 6 months after surgery. If you consult with your bariatric doctor, they must tell you to pass this time with patience and following your post-op diet.

Your hair follicles aren’t damaged during telogen effluvium. So, after a few months, when your body is fairly recovered and used to its new circumstances, it will not only stop but grow fully again.

When Should I Visit a doctor?

If 6 months passed and you still experience significant post-bariatric hair loss, it means the problem is not solved. You might be under pressure, having excess stress, or not getting enough nutrients.

You can take some blood tests that measure all the elements in your body to see what is missing. If everything is OK, you should ask for more professional help. But remember, do NOT panic at all. Panicking just makes it worse. Stress is the last thing you need right now.

Let’s have a review!

Watch out for any type of

– Vitamin deficiency

– Protein deficiencies

– Low Iron levels

– Low levels of protein intake

– Micronutrient deficiency

– Biotin Deficiency

– Low folic acid levels

And remember, avoid extreme dieting. You want to reach your weight loss goals as soon as possible, but not at the cost of your health.