Following weight loss surgery, your body goes through a series of physiological changes with the most obvious being a change in your weight. Aside from weight loss, you can expect to experience altered taste and changes in your appetite. Skin and hair may also be affected, raising concerns about your personal appearance and the fear of permanent hair loss.
For most people hair plays a significant role in forming their identity and body image. Understandably, it can be upsetting to start losing your hair after undergoing weight loss surgery. Whilst no one wants to lose hair it is also important to understand that while you consider hair to be an important part of how you look, it is not essential to the overall health and well being of your body.
Nutrition plays a vital role in hair growth and maintenance however, when your diet is altered and as the body goes through major changes such as weight loss surgery, hair growth can be negatively impacted. This is because the body needs time to readjust to those changes as it is forced to direct nutrition stores away from your hair to support vital organs such as your brain and heart.
There are numerous reasons for hair loss following weight loss surgery, however the most common reason is the surgery itself, along with the rapid weight loss that usually follows. Rapid weight loss tends to slow down six months after surgery with a cessation of hair loss after this time.
Nutrient deficiencies can cause severe hair loss. The following is usually a sign or symptom of one or more nutrient deficiencies:
- Hair loss continued more than one year after surgery
- Hair loss started more than 6 months after surgery
- Patient has had difficulty eating and/or has not complied with supplementation
- Patient has demonstrated low values of ferritin, zinc, or protein
- Patient has had more rapid than expected weight loss
- Other symptoms of deficiency are present
Hair loss rarely lasts more than six months unless there is a dietary cause. Generally doctors will assure their patients that good nutrition over time will restore hair growth.
Hair loss can be distressing after surgery, however there is little evidence to suggest that it is preventable as it is most likely caused by the surgery and rapid weight loss. Key nutrients that impact on hair loss are zinc, iron and protein. So following and healthy varied diet and taking your multivitamins every day is essential for avoiding nutrition deficiencies that can lead to severe hair loss.
Remember it is important to have a blood test every 6-12 months to check your vitamin and mineral levels.