March 01, 2018
Surgery for the cure of diabetes – Interview with Dr. Rey Romero
Understanding hair loss after bariatric surgery (call it gastric sleeve or gastric bypass) … Hair loss after bariatric surgery is very common, it is estimated that 4 out of 10 women have some degree of hair loss ( it also happens in men, but in them it is less noticeable, that’s why they almost do not mention it in the consultations). This situation is stressful, especially when it is not clearly explained to the patient, why and what should be done in case it happens.
First, hair loss in a person without bariatric surgery is due to several reasons (hypothyroidism, infections, inadequate use of shampoos, stress, among others), however the hair loss in post-surgery bariatric patients is usually due to a situation known as telogen effluvium, and what is that? … the telogen effluvium is hair loss caused by increased phase of hair rest, that is, there is an alteration in the phases of hair growth. Most of the time the hair is growing (growth phase), but there comes a time when it stops growing, it stops (resting phase) at that moment it is more likely to detach. In the postoperative patient of bariatric surgery, a greater amount of hair enters the resting phase and therefore falls off.
But why does that happen after a bariatric surgery?
The cause is due to several factors, the trauma of surgery is perhaps the most important, followed by hormonal changes related to weight loss and the stress of the surgery itself. In patients who are operated for another reason, which is not bariatric surgery, their hair may also fall from the trauma of surgery, however, there are no hormonal changes in a bariatric patient. But the good news is that it also accelerates the growth of new hair, which will replace the hair that is coming off.
It is important to mention that hair loss in postoperative patients of bariatric surgery usually occurs between the 1st and 6th month and, as stated above, it is mainly due to a change in the hair growth cycle. When hair loss continues or begins after the 6th month, it is necessary to consider other causes other than telogen effluvium, such as nutritional deficiencies.
So, if hair loss occurs between the 1st and 6th month, is it not about nutritional problems?
In fact, it is likely that no, studies have been conducted where it has been seen that only 1 to 2 of every 10 patients who have hair loss after surgery, have deficiencies of iron, zinc or protein, and in less cases of biotin . This means that, if it is possible that there is a nutritional deficiency, however it is not the most likely.
What should I do?
If you have hair loss after your bariatric surgery:
First you must calm down! (Remember that stress can be a factor that contributes to the fall).
Secondly, you must make sure you supplement with iron and zinc, you must be careful with the dose of zinc you ingest, this can cause other problems.
Third, again, proteins, proteins and more proteins, remember that in general it is recommended the intake of at least 60 grams of protein per day, either in food or supplements.
Fourth, consume foods rich in omega or supplements, these help the nutrients you are ingest to make their function.
And finally, you can use “minoxidil” (it’s one of the few medications that can help stop hair loss), this medicine may not stop telogen effluvium, but it probably helps you feel better.
Remember, even with these measures, it is possible that you keep falling, but now you know that it is very likely to stop before reaching the 6th month of surgery. “Do not take the pretext of hair loss to eat more calories from what your nutritionist prescribed you, that way you could sabotage the surgery, the obesity can kill you, a little bit of hair loss does not !.
On the other hand, if this fall occurs or continues after the 6th month, it would not hurt to perform some tests to measure your nutrient levels.
The good news are …
1.- Relax, maybe you lose between 5 to 15% of your hair, but this will come back, you will not get bald (or), and if it happens, it probably has to do with other factors beyond the telogen effluvium and nutrient deficiency.
2.- Some patients even report that the new hair is stronger and brighter than the previous one.