Tips for Minimizing Hair Loss After Weight Loss Surgery

So, you decided to make a change in your life and underwent weight loss surgery for a healthier lifestyle. But among the many positive changes you see in your health, hair fall seems to be a negative side effect to it. You must know that hair fall is a common occurrence post bariatric surgery and it may get stressful too. But you would be happy to learn that this hair fall is reversible. With proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, this hair fall can be controlled. Let us understand how to reduce hair fall after weight loss surgery:

What Triggers Hair Fall After a Weight Loss Surgery?

The loss of hair after a bariatric surgery is referred to as telogen effluvium. It is connected to our regular hair growth cycle. It begins shortly after the surgery and is generally six months. We must understand the hair growth cycle to learn the root cause of hair fall post weight loss surgery. There are 4 stages in the cycle of human hair growth – Anagen, Catagen, Telogen and Exogen

Anagen – Also known as the active or growth phase, is when the cells of your hair root are dividing rapidly to grow more hair. This is the longest phase in the hair growth cycle. About 90% of our hair is at this stage at any given time.

Catagen – This is the phase when active hair growth comes to an end. The hair roots are cut off from their blood supply and the hair-growing cells. At any given time, about 3% of hair on our scalp is at this stage.

Telogen – This is a resting period when even though the hair strands are in their follicles, they do not grow. Approximately 10% to 15% of our hair is at this phase at any given time. This phase usually lasts up to 100 days.

Exogen– This is the phase where the hair strands are released from their follicles, and they fall.

When we undergo bariatric surgery, our body undergoes hormonal change and is under immense stress. This causes more than the normal percentage of hair follicles to enter the Telogen phase. Hence, you start shedding hair after 3 to 6 months of the surgery. Soon your hair will begin growing and for this process, the old hair follicles need to be released and you tend to lose hair.

Why Does the Hair Have to Fall Severely After the Surgery?

Simple factors tend to impact this hair fall after the surgery:

  • Surgery, trauma, or acute illness
  • Crash dieting, anorexia, low protein intake, chronic iron deficiency
  • Medications like beta-blockers, too much vitamin A and anticoagulants in the body
  • Hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism
  • Chronic diseases like liver disease or any chronic draining disease
  • Heavy metal toxicity

One has to prepare for bariatric surgery, which requires both diet and medication. Even after the surgery, your dietician advises you to a strict diet which tends to cause some deficiencies in the body, which in turn causes side effects and illnesses, including hair fall. Deficiency of nutrients such as biotin, Vitamin B6, zinc, folate and essential fatty acids are the main reasons for hair fall.

Unless you have a genetic problem or an underlying chronic illness, the hair fall can be stopped and you can have healthy hair like before. Some suggestions that are worth following are as below:

  • You shouldn’t worry or take undue stress because it will only trigger further loss of hair. This is just a temporary phase caused because of the surgery and weight loss. It will not last more than 6 months. Your hair will grow back soon.
  • Make sure to visit your physician and get evaluated for any chronic disease, such as thyroid or any others they suggest.
  • Make sure you follow the diet that you have been prescribed by your dietician post-surgery. They give you a balanced meal and making self-learned changes to the diet, such as increasing or decreasing essential food items, can disturb your progress and even worsen the hair fall.
  • Multi-vitamins, folate, zinc, B vitamins, biotin, Vitamin D, calcium nitrate and B12 are some supplements that are essentially given to someone who has undergone weight loss surgery. Make sure you consume them as directed by your physician. You must also check for iron deficiency and take supplements as directed.
  • Supplements with fish oil or fish rich in omega three fatty acids are beneficial. You must consume them after consulting with your physician.

Hair fall after bariatric surgery is often a temporary condition. This shouldn’t stop you from undergoing weight loss surgery. After all, health is wealth!