4 tips to prevent hair loss after bariatric surgery
Hair loss can be a scary topic to discuss. Although hair loss can happen after bariatric surgery, it is not permanent, and your hair will grow back. So why does this happen and what can you do to help prevent it? One thing to note is that those who undergo gastric sleeve or gastric bypass procedures are more likely to experience hair loss than those who have the Lap Band procedure. This is because those who undergo gastric bypass or sleeve surgery experience a more rapid weight loss and higher prevalence of nutrient deficiency after surgery. Because those who have the Lap Band procedure lose weight gradually, they typically have less hair loss.
Research has shown that the physiological stress resulting from major surgery and from rapid weight loss can cause the body to shift nutrients towards vital organs such as the heart and brain and away from cosmetic functions such as hair growth. Although hair is important to us, it is not to the body. As a result, the hair growth phase could temporarily stop and the dormant state set in, causing some hair loss to occur. Most commonly occurs at 3-5 months post-op. As the body adjusts to the changes, the hair loss will decrease and then stop. Hair should grow back as normal as long as there are no nutrient deficiencies and you are consuming adequate protein.
Hair loss prevention tips
Below are four simple tips to help prevent hair loss. Follow these tips and you will have a full head of hair to go along with the new you!
Tip #1: Protein, protein, protein! Our program emphasizes the need for protein from the initial appointment throughout the duration of the band. Protein is the building block of all cells, including the cells that make up your hair. Failing to meet our recommendation of 60g/day minimum per day could leave you with thinning hair as well as less satiety. Make sure you consume lean protein foods at each and every meal. This includes skinless chicken, lean red meat, grilled/baked fish, low-fat string cheese and cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans, protein bars, chia seeds, and flax. If you are a vegetarian, it is important to pair different vegetarian protein options at each meal to supply all of the necessary amino acids. Examples include beans, peas, quinoa, chia seeds and soy.
Tip #2: Take your vitamins. Many nutrient deficiencies can lead to hair loss, so think of your daily vitamins as medications. They are essential for avoiding nutrient deficiencies and provide the B-vitamins needed to keep your hair healthy and full. Take your chewable bariatric multiple vitamin consistently starting at two weeks before surgery to help prevent hair loss and fatigue associated with low nutrient status.
Tip #3: Iron matters. Have your iron levels checked if you are still losing hair at seven months after surgery. Iron is the micronutrient most commonly related to hair loss. Ferritin levels are indicative of iron storage in the body and low ferritin levels are commonly associated with hair loss. Ask your dietitian or doctor to check your ferritin levels if you think yours may be low. Symptoms of iron anemia include fatigue, pale skin, weakness and inability to regulate body temperature. Iron rich food sources include red meat, egg yolks, dark leafy greens, beans/peas/legumes and iron-enriched cereals. Include a vitamin C rich food when eating foods high in iron and the iron will be absorbed better.
Tip #4: Try zinc. If you've tried tips 1-3 and you are still losing hair, consider adding additional zinc to your diet. Zinc is an important factor for the growth and development of healthy hair. Be sure to speak with your dietitian or doctor before starting a zinc supplement as excessive amounts of zinc can cause serious side effects. Oysters, red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other nutrients associated with hair health include vitamin A, folate, B-6 and essential fatty acids. Hair loss can also be caused by systemic diseases, including thyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and is influenced by genetics.
Questions or concerns?
Follow the tips listed above and you will have a head start on preventing hair loss. And, as always, please do not hesitate to visit eCommunity.com/lapband or call our office at 317-621-2500 if you have any questions!