Hair loss after bariatric surgery, called telogen effluvium, is a common side effect that appears 2-3 months post-operation and lasts about six months. It is caused by rapid weight loss, hormonal imbalance, lack of calories, inadequate absorption of nutrients, negligence to stick to supplement programs, and physical stress.

Hair thinning after weight loss surgery (WLS) is not permanent, and following the proper guidelines can help lessen the impact. We give you eight tricks to stop hair from falling quickly.

Weight Loss Surgery and Hair Loss Association

Hair Growth Cycle

The human hair growth and hair loss cycle is perpetual. Hair follicles have four phases: anagen (growth), catagen (regression), telogen (dormant, rest), and exogen (falling out). Specific types of stress, such as rapid weight loss, can shift a much more significant percentage of hairs into the telogen state (generally 10%) than the anagen state (generally 90%).

Human Hair Growth Cycle

Human Hair Growth Cycle

Bariatric-Induced Hair Loss

Bariatric surgery patients go through reduced food intake, rapid weight loss, not following a supplement program, as well as nutritional deficiencies. As a result, they may experience short-lived dermatological disorders, including telogen effluvium.

Hair loss or telogen effluvium due to WLS is a nonscarring alopecia called diffuse loss. Without any nutritional and dietary issues, hair loss continues until all hair that has shifted into the telogen state has shed. This period usually is less than six months. If this period is prolonged past six months, it is most likely due to a lack of proper nutrition.

Post-bariatric micronutrients responsible for hair loss include Vitamins (A, B2, B5, B6, B9/folate, C, D, E, K), Biotin (B7), B12, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Proteins, essential fatty acids.

Decreased calorie intake combined with food disabsorption among RNY gastric bypass (RYGB) patients causes insufficient iron levels, essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic acids), and B12. Duodenal switch patients are even at greater risk of vitamin deficit.

8 Hacks to Stop Hair Loss After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

8 Tips To Cope With Hair Loss After Bariatrics:

1. Biotin supplements

A biotin deficiency can lead to more than just hair loss; it can cause fatigue, numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, and a red rash. Biotin supports the natural hair growth cycle, and supplements daily give your body the energy it needs to maintain your strands. Regrowth can be seen after only a few weeks of using biotin in your vitamin routine.

2. Zinc supplements

Zinc deficiencies are common after bariatric and metabolic surgery and are associated with hair loss. Adding a zinc supplement separate from your multivitamin will help fight deficiencies, preventing the loosening of hair.

3. Use thickening hair products

Hair-thickening products nourish the scalp, promoting healthier and longer-lasting hair and giving the appearance of thicker locks. Anti-hair loss products fight the issue at the root to improve your physical appearance.

Essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, pumpkin seed, jojoba, lavender, and flaxseed may benefit scalp health, as well as hair growth and texture simialr to minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaines. Consult a qualified aromatherapist to ensure appropriate usage and discuss potential risks or allergies.

You can also benefit from emerging treatments like QR678® therapy that helps hair fall and alopecia (bald spot). QR678 propriety therapy increases hair thickness, number, and density.

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4. Eat enough protein

Hair is made from protein, and not getting enough will result in brittle and breakable hair. A minimum of 60-90g is recommended daily. Eat protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, beans, and lentils, and use protein supplements to reach your daily protein goals.

5. Bariatric specialized vitamins

Taking proper vitamins during the post-operative period is crucial for long-term success. Bariatric specialized vitamins have higher doses of necessary vitamins in easily absorbed forms. Patients struggle with eating enough nutrients and minerals post-op, causing the body only to use the nutrients it gets for essential functions. This results in excess hair shedding.

The bariatric population must take bariatric multi-vitamins religiously, especially gastric bypass and duodenal switch patients. Gastric sleeve patients, however, need to take bariatric-specific multivitamins at least for the first 2 years postoperatively.

Emerge bariatric vitamins banner. Prevent hair loss after weight loss surgery.

6. Plan a vitamin routine

You should not take all your vitamins at the same time. Specific supplementations, like calcium and iron, compete for absorption, and consuming them together will leave you deficient in iron. This will lead to hair loss. Here is an example vitamin regimen you can follow

Bariatric Vitamin Schedule 8 Hacks to Stop Hair Loss After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

7. Eat a balanced diet

Our bodies need a variety of nutrients over a long period to maintain beautiful hair. A well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet will support healthy hair production by maintaining healthy hair follicles and structures. Add healthy fats like coconut oil, Barlean’s Essential fatty acid swirl, or avocado in your protein shakes.

8. Get enough sleep

Sleep is critical in helping prevent hair shedding by balancing hormones and repairing hair-producing cells. A lack of sleep will increase your body’s stress hormones, which can contribute to baldness.

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Why Am I Losing Hair After Bariatric Surgery?

Losing hair after any operation is typical and is triggered by anesthesia and general shock/trauma to the body. In bariatric procedures, however, there are additional factors that contribute to this phenomenon:

  • Losing weight rapidly
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Not getting enough protein
  • Lack of calories
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Improper multivitamins

The excessive heat generated by curling irons, hair dryers, and straighteners can harm your hair and lead to breakage. The individual’s age, sex, folic acid levels, zinc levels, and thyroid disorders play a significant role.

How long does hair loss last after bariatric surgery?

Bariatric-associated hair loss typically starts three to six months post-op and lasts six to 12 months. It is temporary, and hair growth generally begins after a few months once the body recovers. Use the eight steps above to help lessen the impact of hair shedding and restore those locks.

If hair loss continues for over 12 months, visit a primary care doctor to be thoroughly evaluated for any underlying condition.

Healthcare professionals’ treatment 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.

What percentage of people lose hair after WLS?

Not all bariatric patients have hair loss; only 59.22% encounter this in the first six to twelve months. It is most commonly reported by women who also tested positive for several nutritional deficiencies, including zinc, ferritin, and folic acid.

Recommendations

Recommended daily intake:

  • 80g of protein for women and 100g for men (1.5 to 2g/day L-lysine)
  • 15 mL of flaxseed oil
  • 2.5g of biotin
  • Multivitamin tablets with minerals (200% of DRIs) – recommended  Zinc is already included
  • 350 to 500Ìg/day of B12 in its crystalline form
  • 320mg of ferrous fumarate or gluconate or 65mg of elemental iron twice daily

Conclusion

Experiencing hair shedding can seem like a never-ending issue and can bring stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and psychosocial problems to you. Just remember this unwanted surgery aftermath is brief, and taking the proper steps can help minimize its effects.

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