loss after gastric sleeve surgery is quite common. It’s a normal consequence as
the body reacts to the quick, massive weight loss after surgery. This kind of
hair loss is also called ‘telogen effluvium’, which is usually temporary (not
permanent). So there should be nothing to worry! Here are pieces of information
to help deal with.
effluvium is a kind of hair loss in which there are more hair follicles that go
into telogen (resting) phase.
hair follicle is at rest completely during telogen phase. This is followed with
a club hair and then the new hair growth cycle starts over again. Typically,
telogen phase will last for about 100 days or longer for hairs elsewhere on
your body (e.g. leg, arm, eyelash, and eyebrow).
telogen phase, the hair follicle will go into anagen and catagen phase:
- Anagen is the phase when the hair
follicles grow actively. The hair cells divide rapidly, stimulating your hairs for
growth (about 0.4 inch every 28 days). Most of hairs on the scalp are going
with anagen phase. This phase will last in years (about 2-6 years).
- Catagen is the transition phase
between anagen and telogen. At any time, it accounts about 3 percent of all
hairs and lasts for about 2-3 weeks .
are usually only about 6-8 percent of hair follicles on the scalp going into
telogen phase at any time. But certain conditions can drive more hair follicles
turn into telogen phase, resulting in a massive loss of hair. These include
physical trauma (such as surgery), pregnancy (hormonal changes), certain
medications, and nutrient deficiency.
effluvium is common after surgery, affecting about half of all people in the
year following surgery .
So how does gastric sleeve surgery factor into hair loss? There are a number of
possible answers. The main ones are as follows.
sleeve surgery – before, during, and after the operation — could be stressful
a lot. And stress does have to do with hair loss. Even it is one of main factors
in bariatric surgery-related hair loss.
body is likely to shunt more nutrients to vital organs (e.g. the heart, lungs,
and muscles) during stress. On the other hand, your sensitive hair growth
system is not part of vital organs for survival during stress or at a time when
all resources concentrated on healing & recovery after a major surgery. As
a result, the normal cycle of hair growth is shut down temporarily .
general, weight loss is not a risk factor of hair loss (especially if you drop
your extra pounds gradually). But in case after bariatric surgery, a massive of
weight loss occurs in a short period of time. This may cause a shock to your
system and hormones, resulting in alarming side effects such as hair loss.
know that, anecdotally and clinically, rapid weight loss is associated with
hair loss. The good news, again it’s temporary. Once the system gets back to
normal (balance), hair loss will resolves on its own naturally.
hair loss is common after a major surgery, it’s not always easy to understand. Because
it could be attributed by a large variety of things!
- Anesthesia. It’s not fully known
whether anesthesia for surgery has a role to factor into hair loss. But some
doctors and patients believe there may be a connection, especially for high
dose of anesthesia that last several hours. It’s thought that anesthesia may
affect (slow down) cell division.
- Certain medications may affect
your hair follicles, including some of which are probably necessary for gastric
sleeve surgery procedures.
- Surgery increases the risk of
infection. If you have infection, the problem could be severe enough to affect
your hair follicles.
else? Gastric sleeve surgery is one of new innovations. It’s quite practical if
compared to other types of bariatric surgeries. Typically, it requires 2-3 days
of hospital stay. But whatever it is, it’s likely to drive you to take more
days of bed rest. And prolonged period of bed rest will cause more pressure on
back of your head scalp, making positional alopecia more likely.
alopecia is not common after gastric sleeve surgery. But it might occur if you
have sensitive scalp.
there is no specific instruction to deal with hair loss after gastric sleeve
surgery. The hair usually will grow back several weeks or months afterwards.
However, there are also a number of ways to make your hair regrow more quickly.
need more nutrients during recovery. Eat foods high in nutrients to support
your healing optimally. This is also important to make sure that your hair
follicles get what they need to keep them healthy.
more guidance what to eat right after surgery, work with a registered
dietitian! There are probably specific instructions you need to follow.
example, it’s normal to feel much sooner than before since you now have smaller
stomach. So don’t eat foods too quickly! You need to chew each food slowly —
easily digested foods are more recommended, especially for diet right after
surgery. You may also need to avoid dairy products for a while until you’re
ready to get used to your new stomach, this is particularly true if you have
to help deal with hair loss after surgery, here are a few things to remember:
know well that protein is one of the most important nutrients for the body. The body can do all it can if you’re lack of
protein. If you are being at deficiency, your body may break down muscle. This
makes you feel tired, irritable, or nauseous. And if the deficiency continues,
this will cause other problems such as skin problems, weakened immune system
(increased risk of infection), and hair loss.
why you need to get a lot of protein from your diet (60-80 grams a day or
more). But with new smaller stomach, it’s not always easy to get enough it.
Even many bariatric patients probably don’t get enough protein after surgery, according
to one study .
physical capacity to take in food after surgery could be extremely limited.
Acid reflux, GERD, heartburn, or whatever you want to call it – can also affect
your dietary protein as can diet restrictions (such as restrictions for dietary
products due to lactose intolerance, fatty foods and sugary drinks several
weeks after surgery). Furthermore, controls around the timing of drink and food
also don’t exactly make things any easier.
whatever it is, getting enough protein is a must to deal with bariatric
surgery-related hair loss. To help absorb your dietary protein optimally, protein
should be eaten as the first part of your meal.
know there are lots of foods containing protein. But certain foods are probably
not allowed by your doctor until your stomach is ready to digest them. In case
when you’re dealing with a tough time getting enough, protein supplement may be
necessary (ask your doctor for prescription).
- Essential fatty acids. They are a good nutrient that plays a role for
your skin and hair health, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. You can find them
in fatty fish (such as tuna and salmon), almonds, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.
- Vitamins, especially B6 and B12.
B vitamins are involved to help carry nutrients and oxygen to the scalp. Leafy
greens, spinach, fish, and whole grains are good sources for B vitamins.
- Folic acid, the synthetic form of
folate — a kind of B vitamin. It is also responsible in the health of your
nails, skin, and hair. Try to get about 400 microgram of folate a day,
according to OWH .
Some good natural sources of folate are broccoli, beans, nuts, and citrus
- Trace minerals, especially zinc,
iron, biotin, and magnesium. All these minerals are good for hair growth. The
good news the deficiency of these minerals (probably except iron) are uncommon
since they can be easily found in a variety of foods, such as; fruits,
vegetables, and many other common foods.
necessary, it’s not bad idea to get help from the pharmacy. Try a hair growth
product to help you recover from post-surgical telogen effluvium more quickly!
are several choices to choose from, such as minoxidil (Rogaine, has been
approved by FDA), vitamin supplements (like Arnica Montana to help minimize
inflammation), special shampoos (e.g. Nioxin shampoo), or low level laser
therapy (if possible). Which is the best one? This can vary – but to keep safe,
it’d be better to ask your doctor /dermatologist first!
you’re going with telogen effluvium, your hair is fragile to fall out. So you
need be gentle and extra careful when styling your hair. Avoid any risky
behaviors that provoke the problem (e.g. coloring, blow-drying, extreme
curling, or straightening).
avoid heat tools, dyeing, or tying your hair up until your hair is ready
enough. Also, brush your hair carefully with a good brush (it should detangle
your hair without pulling on it too strong). Never brush the hair when it’s
wet, when it’s most fragile!
trauma and restrictions on foods you can eat a few weeks after gastric sleeve
surgery are probably enough to affect your hair life cycle which then may end
with hair loss (telogen effluvium). And this could get worse if your stress is
is a traumatic factor for hair loss. Your stress hormone, called cortisol,
activates the emergency response of your body. As a result, all resources in
your body are likely concentrated for fight /flight response, distorting your
normal hair life cycle.
times of stress are quite common after surgery. But it should be manageable. If
necessary, consider counseling to help manage and improve your emotional health.
It’s also recommended to join support groups.