Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass

Hair loss is a scary topic but unfortunately it can be a common side-effect of gastric bypass surgery. 

Many patients report that their hair started falling out, around 3 months after surgery. 

This may be more common with gastric bypass patients than with those who had lap-band surgery. 

You can take comfort in the fact that this is not one of the gastric bypass long-term side effects. Rather, it’s a temporary condition, which can be minimized, and in some cases even prevented, with the right tools.

This article explains the process of hair loss after gastric bypass surgery. We’ll also provide a few tips for ensuring that the risk of hair loss is minimized so that you can focus on your recovery. 

 

Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass

Why Does Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass Occur?

hair loss after gastric sleeve

Hair loss is one of the side effects of gastric bypass surgery and usually

occurs as a result of the drastic change in weight, the corresponding loss of nutrients, and as a general bodily response to surgery. 

What happens a few months after surgery is that the body reroutes nutrients from the process of hair growth to your vital organs. This hair loss is known as telogen effluvium.

Hair has a growing phase and a dormant phase referred to as the telogen and anagen phases respectively. 

Telogen Effluvium refers to the hair loss that occurs after gastric bypass surgery and occurs when your hair enters its dormant (telogen) phase. This means it stops growing and falls out. 

This occurs after 3 or so months, but can also happen sooner. Typically, this does not result in extreme hair loss or even bald spots, but you may notice that you are shedding hair. 

This process is mostly brought on by the calorie restriction that happens post-surgery, as well as the stress and hormone changes after bariatric surgery that occur. 

There are also other factors that may lead to this condition after gastric bypass surgery. 

This includes medications, metal toxicity, chronic disease, hypothyroidism, and other common complications after gastric bypass surgery

Some people also experience anxiety or depression after bariatric surgery, which heightens the body’s stress response and may lead to side effects, such as hair loss. 

The onset of Telogen Effluvium is sudden, but should not last longer than 6 months post-surgery. 

This inflammation that causes this hair loss can affect up to 50% of the scalp, but this can be minimized with the proper nutrition and action. 

 

How Can Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass Be Prevented?

Protein

Protein intake is one of the most important steps to ensuring speedy recovery post-surgery. It has also been found that adequate protein intake can prevent some gastric bypass complications years later

bariatric surgery and hair loss

The common recommendation is 60-80 grams of protein daily for most bariatric individuals. For many patients, it is difficult to get the right amount of protein in. 

The great thing about protein is that it supports building and maintenance of muscle, promotes wound healing and metabolism, and curbs hunger. Protein can be consumed through dietary food sources like lean meats and fish. For those that that a difficult time reaching daily protein levels through food intake, there are supplements available. 

Many patients opt to add in bariatric meal replacement/protein shakes to their diet. 

Consuming a protein shake will ensure that you get the right amount of protein without effort. Many bariatric-specific shakes are also filled with additional nutrients and are low in sugar. 

Additional supplements are a great way to ensure that you get your daily dose of protein in, which will assist your body in healing properly.  

Due to the nutrition protein supplies, it can prevent or minimize the body’s compensatory responses, such as hair loss. 

In fact, hair follicles are made up of protein and a protein-rich diet can assist hair growth, whereas a protein deficiency often leads to hair loss. 

Biotin, or Vitamin B7, may be recommended for hair growth because it plays an essential role in the production of a hair protein called Keratin. 

Iron

gastric bypass hair loss

Iron is one of the most common deficiencies that bariatric patients can face. Not meeting daily iron guidelines may produce hair loss in patients with an existing deficiency. 

Iron is one of the recommended supplements taken for life post-surgery to assist with recovery and to minimize other side effects.  

In terms of hair loss, it has been found that iron deficiencies may play a role in placing stress on the natural hair cycle. In fact, iron is the micronutrient that has mostly been associated with hair loss. 

It is wise to stay consistent with your daily multivitamin regimen that includes iron to prevent unwanted side effects, such as hair loss. 

With some food intolerances after surgery, it can be difficult to consume enough iron from the diet. Luckily, you can get 45mg to 60mg of iron in by using a daily bariatric multivitamin with iron. 

It has been said that patients who experience hair loss longer than six months after surgery should have blood levels checked for deficiencies, such as iron that could be causing this issue.  

Zinc

Along with iron, some patients who experience lingering hair loss post-surgery have been found to have a zinc deficiency. It has been found that zinc can have a regulatory effect on hair loss and also the development of alopecia (permanent hair loss). 

For this reason, bariatric patients are encouraged to get 8-22mg of Zinc per day based on procedure type. 

Zinc is most commonly found in oysters, red meats, and poultry, all of which are not included in the diet in the early weeks post-surgery. 

A bariatric specific multivitamin that contains adequate Zinc should be taken to ensure that you maintain healthy levels of all essential vitamins and minerals. Sometimes your healthcare provider will recommend starting a multivitamin before surgery. 

Vitamins

 hair loss after bariatric surgery

Staying consistent with your bariatric multivitamin is going to be the best way to ensure you are keeping up with daily recommended vitamin and mineral levels for your bariatric needs. 

If you find that hair loss is still occurring, even while you are consistent with vitamin and mineral levels, make sure you are also getting enough daily protein, water, and a variety of whole foods. 

If you are in need of further prevention and minimization of hair loss, your doctor may recommend a hair, skin, and nails supplement or multi-collagen supplement formulated for bariatric needs.

In general, any bariatric vitamin that have been approved and prescribed by your doctor will, in one way or another, minimize the risk of hair loss. 

 

Conclusion

So what’s the bad news? You probably will shed some hair after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. 

The good news is that this is not permanent. The hair will grow back. It also means that the surgery is working by promoting rapid weight loss. 

Luckily, there are many preventative measures to minimize and even prevent hair loss. All these measures will work to assist you in your recovery process as well. 

 

**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.