Weight Loss Surgery (Obesity Surgery) & Hair Loss

After weight loss surgery you will notice all sorts of changes in your body some of which will be unwelcome. One of those changes can be hair loss, which can be very distressing to cope with.  Your hair maybe the one part of yourself that you really liked before surgery!  Dealing with hair loss is difficult and distressing and on the journey of emotional ups and downs, feels like a blow.  For many, the hair loss stage occurs when you have not yet lost much weight so it is not untypical to feel very deflated and depressed. 

Hair loss will not affect all weight loss surgery patients but it is common.  Hair usually comes out in clumps, which you will notice on furnishing, when washing and brushing your hair.  You may start noticing excessive hair in the plughole in the shower.  The first reaction is generally stress and panic, which is understandable and a common reaction.  Most patients feel that they are going to go bald, however this is very rare and the hair loss is usually more of a general thinning effect all over the scalp.  It is typical to experience hair loss in the fourth to ninth month after surgery.  In some cases patients have suffered hair loss after a longer period after surgery but this is much more rare.  Hair loss is linked with rapid weight loss and is most common with patients of gastric bypass and duodenal switch.  It is less common with gastric band patients, although it can occur with all weight loss surgery procedures if there is rapid weight loss.   

Reasons for Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery

It is not fully understood why hair loss occurs after weight loss surgery but it is linked with the changes that happen in your body after surgery.  Rapid weight loss and hair loss seem to be connected, although some weight loss surgery patients who have lost weight at a steady rate have still experienced hair loss.  There is not much you can do about losing hair but in most cases patients don’t go bald.  If you have very thick hair, the hair loss you experience will be less noticeable.  Those with very fine and thin hair will notice the hair loss the most and in these cases it can be very distressing.  Following all the guidance you have been given about healthy eating is important to try and prevent hair loss, however if it does happen a healthy diet usually does little to cease the process.  In particular protein is important so be careful to ensure you have at least 60 grams of protein a day or as your doctor or dietitian advises.  You could try taking extra supplements that are essential for hair and nail growth.  Vitamin E and biotin are also worth trying as they have been linked with hair and nail growth. 

Hair Growth After Weight Loss Surgery

Other than making sure you are following all the dietary guidelines and trying vitamin supplements, there is not much you can do about hair loss.  You could consider wearing a hairpiece or wig if you feel very self-conscious.  The good news is that hair loss is usually a temporary condition for most weight loss surgery patients.  As your weight loss stabilises you hair loss will gradually slow down and your hair will grow back.  After weight loss surgery your body undergoes many changes, including many hormonal changes, which can cause hair loss and you need to give your body time to recover and adjust to the changes.  It takes a while (9 months or more) for your body to recover from surgery and the changes in diet, digestion and rapid weight loss.  After a period of roughly 9 months things start to settle down, your weight loss starts to slow down and your body starts to adjust.  As your weight loss slows down so does hair loss, generally.  You may notice that your hair grows back differently, curly when it was straight before, for example.  Don’t be concerned it’s common and most patients are pleased to have hair back, whatever type it is.  It is a relief when you see hair growing back, this usually takes a month or two for your hair to completely grow again depending on your hair type.  After a few months of hair gain most patients have the same amount of hair they had before surgery and in some cases it can grow back thicker and glossier than it was previously!

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