Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery – Question of the Week results

23 Sep

So I said the topic of the week was hair loss as a result of weight loss surgery.

Here is what I have learned.  Disclaimer, these are my learnings and my perspectives.  Your mileage may vary!  Besides, no one is probably reading this anyway.  😀 😀

So it sounds like a lot of you have experienced hair loss after surgery. Some people will experience a lot, worrying that they will go bald, while others experience minimal loss.  What people notice is a lot of hair coming out in the hair brush or going down the drain when you wash your hair.  It can begin fairly soon after surgery, and I’ve read can go along through the active weight loss phase, so like for the whole first year.  Eeks.

Causes:

  • Trauma of Surgery

    Just having surgery is a shock to the system, and our hormones go a little wonky (or a lot wonky) after this surgery. In reference to hormones, I think about postpartum hair loss a lot, and wonder if it will be similar to that, because after you have a baby, all the hormones go wacky (and in my case, csection surgery) and I lost a lot of hair after each kid, but it stabilized. I am praying for something similar.

  • Inadequate nutrition/protein due to drastic decrease in calorie and nutrient consumption

    Not getting enough protein in, particularly in the early phases of post-op recovery, apparently is the biggest culprit.  The body needs protein and nutrients to repair itself after surgery and maintain the body, and it diverts the protein to more important body functions to make sure we stay alive, apparently hair just isn’t critical, who knew?

What’s a wls patient to do?

  1. breathe deeply.  chances are, you won’t go bald.  Even if you lose a lot a hair, it will grow back.  People don’t go bald from having weight loss surgery, I suppose unless there were other underlying issues in the first place (of course in my world, I fear the relationship of PCOS and weight loss in general.)
  2. protein, protein, protein.  Get it in, you already know its the priority, but shooting for at least 60 grams a day.  Myself, I’m thinking that those 42g protein bullets as pretty key to my early post-op life.  Although I have seen some comments that the kind of protein in those bullets is not as good as other forms?
  3. scalp massage — a great video is here.  Your inclination may be to stop washing your hair, avoid brushing it, but actually, scalp stimulation is needed to get blood flowing to the scalp and encourage regrowth. My hubby is WONDERFUL about giving me head massages, so I guess that will continue 🙂
  4. Supplements to promote hair regrowth.  According to Dr. Alvarez’ book, “Successful Weight Loss with the Gastric Sleeve”* a potential regimen for supplementation to prevent or slow hair loss is:
    • Co-Enzyme Q/10 — 25-50 mg per day
    • Biotin: 300 mcg per day
    • Flax Seed Oil: 1-2 grams per day
    • Zinc: 50 mg per day
  5. Topical products to promote hair regrowth.  I’ve seen Nioxin mentioned a few different places.

My plan

All in all, my plan is to hopefully begin the supplement regimen noted above BEFORE surgery, to allow for a significant strong healthy head of hair.  Since I already have some thinning up front due to PCOS, I don’t want to have a disaster, so hopefully if those things are at good levels pre-surgery, maybe it will help afterwards.  Just my hope!

Resources

My favorite blog source of information for my ruminations today was Gastric Bypass Truth. Definitely check her out.  Adding her to my blogroll.

Bariatric Times article on WLS and hair loss with references (by Dr. Jacques)

Obesity Action article on WLS and hair loss (also by Dr. jacques, but a little easier to read for some reason)

* if you are considering gastric sleeve surgery, this book is really good.  I am usually a freak for evidence-based medicine, and I’m not sure I see enough of that here, I still really feel that based on Dr. Alvarez’ personal experience, he has a lot to share around this, so consider it a valuable resource in my new library of weight loss surgery books as I am learning and waiting for my surgery.

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3 Responses to “Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery – Question of the Week results”

  1. vsgmom October 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I lost a lot of hair initially & I struggled to get in my protein. Those shakes, as a fresh post op, were often difficult to manage.
    I had heard wonderful things of Greek yogurt, but when I tried the plain (flavors had too much sugar) it tasted like sour cream. Finally somebody broke my idiocy and said “throw in some splenda, SF syrups, fresh fruit or SF jam”
    So, here is my key to protein success. Greek Yogurt. I use splenda and fruit. I also use Torani SF pumpkin pie syrup for a dessert type treat. Awesome protein, easy to get down, easy to digest.

    • losermama October 5, 2011 at 3:58 am #

      This is such awesome advice. I too have struggled a bit with greek yogurt, love the protein it brings, but also had not thought of flavoring with SF stuff. DOH!! Thank you!

    • Michael Wiener January 20, 2013 at 1:26 am #

      Thank you for sharing these valuable tips. I haven’t heard about Greek Yogurt, but definitely worth checking out.

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