HAIR LOSS ACCOMPANYING RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
Rapid weight loss from any source can trigger hair shedding. Since bariatric surgery is particularly effective at creating rapid weight loss it is also particularly effective at triggering hair shedding.
KEY THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- It does not affect every patient following weight loss surgery
- It is most often encountered in the early months
- It is believed to result, in part, from triggering the hair follicles to enter their a dormant state (“telogen effluvium”) early instead of remaining in their growth state .
- It rarely lasts more than 6-12 months and then the hair starts to return to normal.
- Generally, it does not require any action unless other causes are suspected
- It does not lead to baldness – be reassured that normal growth will eventually return
- It can be worsened by inadequate protein and micronutrient intake so it is important to keep up with the daily protein amount and vitamin supplementation advised by your dietitian
- It may not be completely preventable
Hair shedding is more likely to be related to nutrient deficiencies if:
- a) It persists beyond the first year of surgery.
- b) It first begins more than six months after surgery.
- c) There are significant ongoing issues maintaining adequate food intake due to swallowing difficulties, nausea or vomiting. These symptoms are rare complications and require assessment and investigation by your surgeon.
- d) Bloodwork demonstrates persistently low iron, zinc or protein levels
- e) Other symptoms of vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies are present
If hair shedding does occur, here is what you can do:
- Return to your surgeon to request blood tests for micronutrient deficiencies, particularly zinc, iron and B12. If they are detected you surgeon will tell you what supplements to take and for how long.
- Ensure you are consuming a minimum of 60-80g of protein per day, and more if you have had a bypass procedure.
- If you are concerned about ongoing food intolerance, return to your surgeon for an assessment.
- Ensure you are taking daily bariatric surgery specific multivitamins as well as any additional supplements that have been prescribed