Some temporary hair loss is common after weight loss surgery. Hair loss is hard enough to deal with on its own, but it can be especially disheartening for weight loss surgery patients, as it usually occurs before a significant amount of weight comes off. For some people, this represents a loss of something they really liked about themselves.
While most gastric bypass and duodenal switch patients experience significant hair loss, it’s less common among gastric band patients, with 20 to 30 percent experiencing some level of loss. This is likely related to the rate at which weight comes off after these surgeries.
You may notice your hair coming out in clumps; this is particularly noticeable in the shower drain or your hair brush. You won’t go bald, but there could be significant overall thinning of the hair. How noticeable this is will depend on how much hair you had to start with.
The reason for this post-surgery hair loss isn’t known for certain, and unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about it when it occurs. In attempt to prevent it, make sure you consistently get at least 60 grams of protein each day as soon as possible after surgery. While they’re not scientifically proven to prevent hair loss, you might also try vitamin supplements that are designed to promote hair and nail growth, or zinc, vitamin E, or biotin. If you lose a significant amount of hair, Rogaine and Nexium shampoo have proven to be effective treatments for some people.
If you experience hair loss after bariatric surgery, try not to feel too discouraged—once your weight loss starts to stabilize, the hair loss should stop and your hair should start growing back. Again, the exact trigger of the hair loss isn’t known, but one theory is that the hormonal changes that occur as a result of rapid weight loss cause hair to fall out. These hormones level out right along with your weight, causing the hair to come back. Some people find that their hair is a little different once it grows back in. For example, a person who had straight hair before surgery might end up with curly hair.
If you continue to lose hair after your weight loss stabilizes, or if your hair doesn’t start to grow back, your doctor may check your prealbumin levels to see if you’re getting enough dietary protein. If your prealbumin levels are low, your doctor will likely recommend that you increase your daily protein intake.