While we all achieve excellent results with weight loss surgery, some potential side effects are associated with this operation. Losing hair after weight loss surgery is common and can be stressful for men and women.
Temporary hair loss related to bariatric surgery is known as Telogen Effluvium and is part of the normal hair growth cycle. It is usually observed in the third and fourth-month intervals and lasts to the sixth month post-operatively.
It has been shown that Biotin supplementation can positively impact hair loss incidence in patients undergoing bariatric procedures, like gastric sleeves and gastric bypass. To understand how to stop hair loss after weight loss surgery, it is first important to understand the hair growth cycle and what causes increased telogen effluvium.
Hair Growth Cycle
Hair follicles go through the following cycles before they fall out. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, losing 50 to 100 strands a day is normal.
- Anagen, the growth phase, is the place where nearly 90% of our hair is in at any time.
- Catagen, the transition phase.
- The resting phase, known as Telogen, lasts about 1 to 6 months. With 5-15% of our hair in this resting phase, stress or any hormonal changes to the body can cause more hair to go into the resting phase. Bariatric surgery patients are most likely to shed this type of hair. Once hair grows again, mature hair follicles are released, and then the patient loses that hair.
- Exogen, the falling out phase.
Reasons for Hair Loss
Normal Hair Loss – There are many common causes of hair thinning in general, such as,
- Acute illness or surgery in general
- Chronic diseases
- Hormonal imbalances and thyroid diseases (associated with obesity)
- Crash diets
- Excess Vitamin A
It is important to note that while these factors can contribute to excessive shedding, individuals may experience varied hair loss, which can also be influenced by genetics, age, stress, and other environmental factors.
Bariatric Hair Loss – Post-bariatric hair thinning is mainly caused by,
- Physical stress from the operation
- Rapid weight loss
- Hormonal imbalance
- Not getting enough protein
- Lack of calories
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Improper vitamin schedule
A common complication of weight loss surgery is nutritional deficiencies; lessened levels of zinc, folate, essential fatty acids, or Vitamin B-6 can all lead to hair loss. If you are experiencing significant hair loss or are concerned about your hair health, consult with a healthcare professional to be accurately diagnosed and appropriately treated.
What is Biotin?
Biotin (H or B7) is a water-soluble vitamin that promotes hair, skin, nails, and nervous system health. Biotin comes in regular pills and fast dissolvable tablets. Vitamin B7 is found in foods,
- Sweet potato
While biotin deficiency is rare, it can lead to continued hair loss. Signs and symptoms of lack of sufficient biotin are beyond just alopecia;
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Dry scaly skin
- Cracking in the corners of the mouth
- Swollen and painful tongue
- Dry eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Red rash
Can Biotin Prevent Hair Loss?
Biotin is beneficial if hair loss is caused by a deficiency, but if there is no deficiency of biotin, it will not stop hair shedding. Research has found biotin can help increase hair growth in women with hair thinning. Further studies have shown that temporary hair loss after bariatric surgery can be prevented by biotin supplementation with low efficacy.
Weight loss surgery patients who have added a biotin supplement into their daily vitamin routine have seen positive results. As for a diet, eat omega-3 and three fatty acids-rich foods several times a week, and follow a balanced diet that promotes overall good health.
Other Suggestions for Hair Growth
Patients can experience hair loss for several months even after implementing a proper diet plan and vitamin regimen, but hair growth should resume at a steady rate. Here are suggestions to help overcome the transient hair loss,
– Vitamins & Supplements
Follow the post-operative guidelines set by your nutritionist after surgery to increase calories and protein to prevent excessive hair thinning. Incorporate a vitamin regimen with bariatric specialized vitamins to fill any gaps in nutrition. ASMBS guidelines recommend taking a bariatric multivitamin, calcium citrate, iron with vitamin C, and vitamin B12.
Additionally, taking zinc, biotin, fish oil, and collagen supplements has been shown to slow hair thinning and increase hair growth.
– Explore Essential Oils
Essential oils like peppermint oil, jojoba oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, and pumpkin seed oil not only have pleasant smells but have also been linked to stimulating hair growth.
- Peppermint oil, Jojoba oil, and Lavender oil: Recent research of these oils has shown promise in helping to prevent hair thinning, but it is important to note that further research is needed to establish their relatability.
- Rosemary oil: Research conducted in 2015 indicated that rosemary oil might be similarly effective to minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, in terms of promoting hair growth. Nonetheless, additional research is required to corroborate this discovery.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil: Some studies have suggested that topical application of pumpkin seed oil led to a significant increase in hair regrowth among participants with female pattern baldness after three months. However, more extensive studies are necessary to substantiate this finding further.
It is important to note that while these initial findings are encouraging, more comprehensive research is necessary to establish the efficacy and safety of essential oils for hair growth. Before incorporating essential oils into your hair care routine, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified aromatherapist to ensure appropriate usage and to discuss any potential risks or allergies.
– Avoid Heat Styling
The excessive heat generated by curling irons, hair dryers, and straighteners has the potential to harm your hair and lead to breakage. Although avoiding heat styling may not always be feasible, it is advisable to consider reducing the frequency of using these tools. Another practical approach to minimizing hair damage is lowering the temperature settings on heated styling tools.
Moreover, based on a comprehensive review of research conducted in 2019, applying a heat-protectant product prior to using heated styling tools can considerably decrease hair breakage. Heat protectants function by creating a safeguarding layer that helps retain moisture and shield the hair from the damaging effects of heat.
If hair loss continues for over six months, visit a primary care doctor to be thoroughly evaluated for any underlying condition. The primary care physician or healthcare professional may conduct a comprehensive medical history review, perform a physical examination, and possibly order additional tests to identify any potential causes for the continued hair loss.
These tests may include blood work to check for hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiencies, or other markers of underlying health issues.
Based on the evaluation findings, appropriate treatment options can be explored to address the underlying condition and promote hair regrowth. This may involve targeted interventions such as hormone therapy, nutritional supplementation, topical treatments, or referrals to specialists in dermatology or endocrinology, depending on the underlying cause.