According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, the occurrence of bariatric surgery has increased over 40% from 2011 to 2017. For those not familiar, bariatric surgery is a procedure performed on the stomach or intestines to help with weight loss by restricting the amount of food that the stomach can hold. As we have seen an increase in the number of bariatric surgeries, we have also been seeing more patients that have experienced hair loss after having bariatric surgery. So does bariatric surgery cause hair loss?
Your hairs are in a constant life cycle, which includes a growing phase, a transitional phase, and a resting phase. The hairs in the resting phase will eventually shed as new hairs grow beneath them, which is totally normal. Occasionally, when the body is in stress, it can trigger a mass shedding that causes the hairs in the telogen (resting) phase to shed faster than normal. This is called a Telogen Effluvium and is a diffuse hair loss that occurs all over the scalp. This can be caused by pregnancy, rapid weight loss, protein deficiency, emotional stress, physical illness, surgery, trauma, and some medications.
So what does Telogen Effluvium have to do with bariatric surgery? Bariatric surgery induces weight loss by restricting the amount of food that the stomach can hold, however, one side effect of most types of bariatric surgery is vitamin and nutrient deficiency. Therefore, the body is not only experiencing the stress of surgery, but it often experiences a deficiency in the vitamins and nutrients that are vital to healthy hair. This stress and nutrient deficiency can lead to a Telogen Effluvium. The good news is that with proper treatment Telogen Effluvium is typically reversible.
The first step would be ensuring that the patient is supplementing the vitamins and nutrients they are now lacking. The second step would be treating the hair loss. We have found that a combination of Low Level Laser Therapy, Formula 82M, and VIviscal or Nutrafol can be very effective. However, if possible it is best to be proactive if you are getting bariatric surgery instead of waiting for the hair loss to occur. Typically, hair loss after bariatric surgery starts to occur three to six months post surgery. We recommend patients begin using Low Level Laser Therapy, Formula 82M, and vitamins immediately after surgery to minimize the loss and slow down the shedding as it occurs.
Posted by your Medi Tresse team