Hair Loss after Rapid Weight Loss
By Kim Bertonica, RN
Hair loss can happen after bariatric surgery, but it is important to know that the hair loss is not permanent, and the hair will grow back. Hair loss is due to rapid weight loss and some nutrient deficiency after bariatric surgery. Research has shown that rapid weight loss can cause the body to shift nutrients to vital organs and away from the cosmetic functions of the body, such as hair and nail growth. Although hair is important to us, it is not the priority of the body when rapid weight loss occurs.
After weight loss surgery, the hair growth phase could temporarily stop and the “dormant” phase of hair growth will set-in, which will lead to some hair loss. The hair loss is most commonly experienced in three-to-four months after surgery, and the hair loss can last for several months. As the body begins to adjust and adapt to the changes from bariatric surgery, the hair loss will decrease after time and then the hair loss will stop. The hair should grow back as normal as long as there is adequate protein intake and no nutrient deficiencies.
Ensuring that you have adequate protein and vitamin replacement is key to promoting hair regrowth. Protein is the building block of all cells, including hair cells. Most adults should consume 60-90 grams of protein every day. Be sure to follow your dietician’s recommendations for consuming lean proteins at every meal. Good protein choices can include skinless chicken, fish, seafood, low-fat cheeses, Greek yogurt, and beans.
Also, you want to be sure you take your recommended vitamin replacement as directed by your physician. The weight loss surgery can affect what specific vitamin replacement your body will need and the vitamin replacement is essential for avoiding nutrient deficiencies. Check with your bariatric care team if you are unsure about that vitamin replacement regimen is best for you. Another key nutrient that is also essential for limiting hair loss and promoting hair regrowth is iron. Iron is the micronutrient commonly related to hair loss, so make sure to take your iron supplements as directed.
Remember, keep your regular follow-up appointments and have your lab work completed as directed. If key nutrients are starting to fall below adequate levels, the deficiencies can be caught early and your physician can make recommendations for replacement.