Both men and women alike can be sent into panic mode if they begin to experience hair loss. Finding globs in the bottom of the shower or the hairbrush can be frightening! There are different types of hair loss and also different causes of hair loss. Today, we are going to discuss telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss that can be related to bariatric surgery.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a condition of temporary hair loss, shedding, that disrupts the natural hair growth cycle. Women typically experience more disturbances to the hair growth cycle than men.
The Hair Growth Cycle
The hair growth cycle is broken down into 3 phases:
- Anagen – growth phase;
- Catagen – transition phase;
- Telogen – resting phase.
During the normal hair growth cycle, at any given time, about 85-90% of your hair follicles are in the anagen phase, approximately 3-5% are in the catagen phase, and 5-8% are in the telogen phase.
A hair will grow from the follicle in the anagen phase which normally lasts 3-5 years, it will then go into the transition stage where it will begin to detach from the follicle, approx. 3 weeks, and then be forced out, shed, in the telogen phase. The telogen phase has 2 parts, part 1 is the resting phase which lasts about 3 months and part 2 is the shedding phase – each day 25-100 hairs are shed. Then the process repeats.
The disorder telogen effluvium is a disruption in the hair cycle when a disproportionate amount of hairs shift from the growing phase to the shedding phase.
Why Does Hair Loss Happen After Bariatric Surgery?
Telogen effluvium can be triggered by several things but it is not the same as alopecia areata which causes permanent hair loss and scarring. With telogen effluvium, large amounts of hair may fall out but it is usually temporary and will grow back. Events that often trigger telogen effluvium are stress, major life event, illness, childbirth, severe trauma, scalp issues, medication, hormones, deficiencies, marked weight loss, or extreme dieting. Bingo!
Experiencing hair loss after bariatric surgery can be attributed to the stress of the surgery, the quick loss of weight, and possibly, aggravated by vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. All types of bariatric surgery alter the size of the stomach and some also change the way nutrients and vitamins are absorbed through the digestive system. When the body is lacking certain vitamins and nutrients this can further trigger or prolong the phase of excessive hair shedding.
How Long after Weight Loss Surgery Will My Hair Start Shedding?
Approximately half of all patients who have weight loss surgery experience hair loss which can begin anywhere from one to six months after surgery. If you have had weight loss surgery within the past several months, and are noticing an increase in hair loss, do not panic! Shedding hair is normal for about 50% of bariatric surgery patients and is usually temporary.
How Long Will My Hair Keep Shedding After Weight Loss Surgery?
Normally hair loss after bariatric surgery will not last longer than six months as long as the issue is not due to deficiencies that are not corrected or other medical conditions.
Can I Prevent Hair Loss After Bariatric Surgery?
While there is no way to totally prevent your body from experiencing hair loss due to shock or nutrient deficiencies after bariatric surgery there are certain things you can do to mitigate risks. The general plan should be to ensure you are getting the right amount of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients your body needs without sabotaging your weight loss goals and daily calorie take.
Essentials To Help Prevent Hair Loss After Weight Loss Surgery
- Protein is important that you are getting your daily recommended amount of protein. It is one of the most important aspects of your diet and a basic building block of all your cells and aids in wound healing. A protein deficiency can trigger and prolong telogen effluvium. Beans, chicken, and cottage cheese are good sources of protein.
- Vitamins & Supplements – make sure you are diligent in taking The vitamins and supplements the surgeon recommended for you after your surgery. Weight loss surgery restricts your food and nutritional intake so these vitamins are to stand in the gap and help your body replace what it cannot get naturally. Taking these vitamins every day will help keep your nutrients and iron levels up and should mitigate hair loss.
- Drink water – staying hydrated is critical after bariatric surgery and will aid in wound healing and minimizing hair loss. The number one reason patients have to be admitted to the hospital after weight loss surgery is due to dehydration.
- Take supplemental biotin and silica – both promote hair health and will assist new hair to grow with increased elasticity to prevent excess breakage. When taken together, they help prevent hair loss and restoration after telogen effluvium.
What if I Continue to Experience Hair Loss Long after Bariatric Surgery?
If you have been diligent in following your bariatric diet and taking the surgeon’s recommended vitamins and supplements but continue to experience excessive hair loss, consult your primary care physician. Issues related to the thyroid, hormones, and other conditions may be the root cause or add to the hair loss issue. Your doctor can run tests on your hair to help determine what may be causing the problem.
Hair Loss after Gastric Sleeve or Bypass Surgery Is Usually Temporary
Do not worry if you are undergoing post-weight loss surgery and are experiencing hair loss, you are not alone. As explained previously, this is very common and most often temporary. As stated above, speak to your doctor about vitamins and supplements you can begin taking before your surgery to help alleviate potential deficiencies.
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If you would like to learn more about weight loss surgery and all it entails, contact us today for a consultation. At IBI Healthcare Institute we are ready to answer your questions and discuss your concerns. If you are contemplating bariatric surgery, we would love to speak with you and discuss the options available in detail so you make an informed decision.