Hair loss after weight loss surgery

Hair loss, or to give it its technical name (Telogen effluvium) can be a distressing and worrying side effect of weight loss surgery, gastric band, sleeve and bypass.

It is a common type of alopecia where there is widespread thinning of the hair, rather than specific bald patches. Your hair may feel thinner, but you're unlikely to lose it all and your other body hair isn't usually affected. It can be caused by a number of factors and the body reacting to:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Intense emotional stress
  • Intense physical stress, after the operation
  • Changes in your diet, and the reduced energy intake

  • It can occur after any weight loss surgery but tends to be more likely when your weight loss is rapid, which is more often the case with a gastric bypass. Hair loss will usually start at 6 months after the operation, you will notice when you wash or brush your hair that it is coming out in clumps which can be very upsetting. In most cases of telogen effluvium, your hair will stop falling out and start to grow back within six months.

    It is important to remember that it will grow back and it isn’t like going bald. In fact there will be a point when you see new growth. It is also very variable between individuals with some people experiencing none and others a substantial amount.

    Dietary considerations

  • Try to maintain a balanced diet. Particularly looking at the protein in your diet, if your body feels that it has enough protein then it is happier to ‘waste’ it on hair growth. See the blog on protein for sources.
  • Also take your multi vitamin and mineral supplement as deficiencies can cause hair loss. Be wary of standalone Zinc supplements as it is important to maintain the correct rations of minerals as they can affect each other’s mode of action. If in doubt check with your dietitian

  • Drugs

    Minoxidil

    Minoxidil is available as a lotion you rub on your scalp every day. It's available from pharmacies without a prescription. It's not clear how minoxidil works, but evidence suggests it can cause hair regrowth in some men

    Minoxidil lotion may help hair grow in around one in four women who use it, and it may slow or stop hair loss in other women. In general, women respond better to minoxidil than men. As with men, you need to use minoxidil for several months to see any effect.

    So the message is although hair loss after weight loss surgery is distressing it isnt permanent, and with time and a slowing down of weight loss it will regrow. Try to eat a balance of foods, take your supplements and also drink plenty of fluids

    *Disclaimer: Please note that weight loss surgery results and benefits are unique to each individual and in such The Bariatric Group cannot guarantee specific weight loss goals as results for each surgery can vary. If you have any questions or would like to know more about weight loss surgery please contact our expert team.