Bariatric Surgery & Hair Loss

February 6, 2023

Following bariatric surgery, you may lose more than weight. Hair loss commonly occurs for several months after surgery. Learn about the connection between weight loss surgery and hair loss so you can take steps to prevent it.

Why Bariatric Surgery Hair Loss Occurs

Hair loss associated with weight loss surgery is called telogen effluvium. The condition occurs after your body has been through a stressful experience, such as bariatric surgery. Essentially, the normal hair growth cycle is disrupted by the changes going on in your body. At any given time, about 90% of your hair’s follicles are in the growth stage, called anagen. The others are in telogen, a resting phase that lasts about three months.

Stress from surgery, nutritional changes and hormonal fluctuations prompt your body to redirect nutrients away from your hair to your vital organs. When this happens, more hair follicles enter the resting phase. The result is thinner hair or hair that falls out. Fortunately, with the proper nutrition, your body will resume a normal hair growth cycle in a few months.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Hair Loss

Hair loss can occur following any weight-loss surgery. Nutritional deficiencies are a primary cause. Studies have shown that people with low levels of zinc, biotin, folic acid (vitamin B9), iron and ferritin (protein that stores iron) experience the most hair loss.

What’s more, your body may absorb nutrients differently after some types of surgery. For example, a restrictive surgery, such as gastric sleeve does not change how your body absorbs nutrients. Even so, you may experience hair loss after the surgery.

On the other hand, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery changes the way your body absorbs nutrients. Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) and BPD with duodenal switch can also affect your nutritional needs. Following these surgeries, you will likely need to take dietary supplements for the rest of your life.

Tips for Minimizing Hair Loss After Surgery

After weight loss surgery, it’s vital to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs. Here are some ways to fuel your body correctly.

  • Eat at least 60 grams of protein each day.
  • Consume a wide variety of healthy, nutrient-dense foods every day.
  • Add a source of protein to each meal and snack.
  • Include a low-sugar powdered protein supplement to help meet daily protein requirements.
  • Take bariatric-specific vitamin and mineral supplements that include B vitamins, folate, zinc and biotin.
  • Check with your bariatric surgeon on the amounts of supplements to be taken. Excess vitamins A and E and selenium can make hair loss worse.
  • Most importantly, don’t panic. Your hair will grow back in about six months.

When to Consult a Doctor

If your hair continues to fall out six months after surgery, or if it starts after six months, talk to your bariatric surgeon. Your body could need more nutrients, or another health condition may be the cause of your hair loss.

Weight loss surgery and hair loss go hand in hand, but you need an experienced bariatric surgeon to help you monitor your recovery. Our team members support you during your journey and help guide you to meet your goals in a safe, healthy way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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