Collagen After Bariatric Surgery

Collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular. Local grocery stores are carrying shelves full of different brands of collagen, so what's the hype? 

Today we talk about the facts behind collagen, if bariatric patients can take it, and the benefits. 

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein found throughout the body as a component of bones, tendons, skin, muscles, cartilage, etc. It’s primarily made up of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These are nonessential amino acids that can be consumed through food sources and the body can produce these as well.

Collagen plays a role in developing organs, wound and tissue healing, bone and blood vessel support, cell function, etc. There are various types of collagen, but the body mainly consists of type I, II, and III.

Collagen After Weight Loss Surgery

There are multiple articles regarding the benefits of collagen supplements in minimizing joint pain, hair loss, improving skin conditions and brittle nails, which are all common issues a bariatric patient may face during their weight loss journey.

Research from 2019 suggested the use of collagen supplements in bariatric patients in order to prevent loose skin and promote natural collagen formation.

Collagen peptides (aka hydrolyzed collagen) are easily absorbed and may provide additional benefits to bariatric patients with absorption issues due to weight loss surgery.

Common Collagen Types

Type 1

  • Decreased production and/or breakdown of type I collagen in the skin produces wrinkles and an aging appearance
  • Typically sourced from bovine, fish (marine) and chicken egg shell membrane
  • Commonly used for hair, skin and nail health

Type II

  • Found in tissues and cartilage that protects the joints
  • Typically sourced from chicken (avian) 
  • May support cartilage and joint health

Type III

  • Found alongside type I collagen
  • Typically sourced from bovine 
  • May play a beneficial role in cardiovascular health, inflammatory conditions, skin health and wound healing

Type V 

  • Fiber-like collagen commonly found in connective tissues
  • Typically sourced from chicken egg shell membrane
  • May provide joint support

Type X 

  • Play a role in bone structure, growth and formation
  • Typically sourced from chicken egg shell membrane
  • May support cartilage structure and bone health

Natural Collagen Formation

In order for the body to naturally synthesize collagen, specific amino acids and select vitamins can be consumed through food sources. A healthy, balanced diet would provide sufficient nutrients in order for the body to produce collagen.

Nutrients that play a role in collagen synthesis include:

  • Amino Acids - specific amino acids from food sources are utilized by the body to promote collagen formation
  • Vitamin C - an antioxidant found in many chewable vitamins for bariatric patientsrequired for natural collagen synthesis and skin regeneration
  • Vitamin A - deficiency can be associated with decreased collagen synthesis

Unfortunately, weight loss surgery patients have a hard time consuming a variety of foods due to restriction and taste changes. When you can no longer rely on food sources as the sole source of nutrition, supplements become necessary in your daily routine.

Supplementation has evolved to now provide bariatric specific products that are formulated to support a healthy weight loss journey and target areas of concern, such as hair loss, GI issues, vitamin/mineral deficiency, and skin changes. 

Why Collagen Supplementation?

  • Aging can lead to decreased collagen production resulting in wrinkles and loose skin
  • UV light exposure can break down collagen at a faster rate than aging 
  • Inadequate diet, lacking a variety of protein sources can result in limited intake of nutrients that help the body synthesize collagen
  • Rapid weight loss after bariatric surgery can diminish skin elasticity 

Benefits of Collagen Supplementation

Vast research has been conducted on the benefits of collagen supplementation.

The top 3 uses for collagen supplements are: 

1. Joint support

Individuals with functional knee pain found substantial relief with consistent collagen peptide supplementation.

Specifically, type II collagen has shown promise in directly targeting joint discomfort. Changes in movement and discomfort have been seen with 3 months of consistent type II collagen peptide use.

2. Skin appearance

Collagen can help maintain skin integrity, firmness, and promote wound healing. Major weight loss has been associated with damage to the skin, specifically elastin and collagen fibers. The collagen production that occurs after rapid weight loss is an immature collagen form with less healing ability.

It was shown that 4 weeks of consistent collagen supplementation improved skin elasticity. That being said, it is possible that consuming collagen peptide supplements during rapid weight loss can help improve collagen levels in the skin that may become damaged.

Collagen may be able to tighten up some loose skin, but if you're looking for a serious improvement to the aesthetic of your figure, you may consider post-bariatric plastic surgery

3. Hair & nail health 

It is common for bariatric patients to experience brittle nails, a variety of skin conditions and temporary hair loss after weight loss surgery. Dealing with hair loss after bariatric surgery can be scary, but it is important to know that this is usually a temporary issue. 

For those experiencing hair-thinning, supplementation of a marine collagen blend containing vitamins and minerals to promote natural collagen formation have been proven to decrease hair shedding and promote hair growth. Collagen peptide supplements may also be beneficial for nail growth and strength.

Hair loss is fairly common after bariatric surgery. Some things to minimize hair loss would be:
- Stay consistent with your bariatric specific multivitamin
- Reach daily protein goals (minimum of 60g - 80g protein/day, follow protein recommendations provided by your dietitian)
- Daily water intake (48-64oz)
- Consume a variety of whole foods
- Blood work (this will show if a vitamin/mineral deficiency is the cause of hair loss)

Collagen Vs Other Protein Sources

Protein is extremely important after weight loss surgery in order to maintain muscle mass, promote healing, prevent hair loss, and promote a healthy metabolism.

When protein supplements become your main source of dietary protein initially following bariatric surgery, it is required to choose a product that contains all essential amino acids. 

Collagen-based protein supplements do not contain a sufficient amount of all the essential amino acids, and therefore should not be used as a sole source of protein after bariatric surgery.

A collagen-based supplement should be used in conjunction with a high quality protein such as whey, egg or soy. 

Check out our wide variety of High Protein Meal Replacement flavors and our Multi Collagen with Joint Support


**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs. 


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