Will I experience hair loss after weight loss surgery?

By Christina Ross – Accredited Practising Dietitian

You may have heard about hair loss following significant weight loss or perhaps you are experiencing this yourself. Not to worry, there is a simple explanation for this – and know that if the hair loss is a result of rapid weight loss, it will grow back. 

A temporary hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, can occur after the body experiences some level of physical stress, such as childbirth, major surgery, an accident and can also occur when a person achieves rapid weight loss. This is because up to 70% of the hair follicles that are in the growth phase shift into the dormant phase, resulting in the shedding of the hair. The hair loss usually commences 3-6 months after the stress is experienced and is generally not a sign of nutritional deficiency. 

In most cases, the hair will gradually return to normal over a 6-9 month period and unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to slow down the rate of hair loss. As distressing as it may be, it is important to know that the hair loss you may experience is transient and temporary and will grow back with time. Although it may be tempting to turn to a hair, skin and nail supplement, it is best to refrain from using these as they usually contain high levels of zinc which can affect the absorption of other micronutrients including copper.  

However, if you notice your hair starts to fall out 6 months or more after your gastric sleeve surgery, this may indicate possible nutrient deficiencies. In most cases, iron deficiency, zinc deficiency and inadequate protein consumption can be responsible, but it is best to investigate this further with a qualified professional – a Bariatric Physician or Dietitian at The BMI Clinic. Also, it is very important that you regularly engage with your Dietitian to seek dietary advice and support, to ensure your diet is well balanced. Complying with your daily multivitamin is also vital in minimising or avoiding nutritional deficiencies after a weight loss procedure. 

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