Are you considering gastric sleeve surgery and feel fear of hair loss? We explain you here how to prevent it or how to reduce this side effect to the fullest.
Hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery is a very common concern for any patient who will undergo any bariatric procedure such as gastric sleeve or gastric bypass; however we believe that like many other circumstances surrounding weight loss surgery, they are more myths than realities which occur mainly due to lack of adequate information.
How often does hair loss happens in patients undergoing gastric sleeve?
Hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery can happen in 30% to 40% of patients. However, this situation is something merely temporary if the patient follows the advice of the bariatric surgeon.
Speaking specifically of patients with gastric sleeve surgery, this situation arises in them less frequently because it is a pure restrictive procedure, in other words, the absorption of ingested nutrients is not affected as in malabsorptive procedures such as the gastric bypass, minigastric bypass, duodenal switch, etc.
How long does this period of hair loss lasts?
Although the post bariatric patient may show loss of hair, this situation usually occurs during the first 6 months after surgery, with an average start of 3 to 4 months after the procedure has been performed, time after which we begin to see a recovery of the amount of hair until you reach a point where the you will have the same quantity and quality of hair than before the procedure, provided when adequate nutrition is accompanied by intake of supplements and suggested vitamins.
Why does hair loss happens after gastric sleeve surgery?
The main reason for hair loss after bariatric surgery is the drastic change in the patient’s nutrition and eating habits, which is even more pronounced if the patient does not eat the right quantity of nutrients and micronutrients needed during his/her recovery phase.
Also, the drastic reduction in the amount of calories absorbed and ingested is a factor which can not be completely changed since the aim of this procedure is precisely to provide an efficient tool for the patient to reduce significantly the amount of calories he/she eats in its daily life.
These changes in diet and poor monitoring by the surgeon may cause you to suffer from some protein deficiency, iron and other minerals like zinc and vitamin B. In addition, weight loss causes hormonal changes that are beneficial for health, nevertheless they are still changes to your body and hair reflects these changes.
Hair may begin to show changes in its usual appearance, being shorter, thinner and weakened from its root. Leading to a loss that may be minimal or a little more noticeable. As we have stated previously, this is a temporary situation that after six months, when the body stabilizes hormonally speaking, it will be completely reversed if during that time the food has been consumed adequately and necessary supplements have been used.
Besides the temporary disturbance of balance in calorie intake of the patient after bariatric surgery, consider that the surgery itself represents a form of "aggression" to the body, which in simple terms also triggers a series of events (hormone release/changes) that can contribute to such hair loss. That lasts only a few days, if the patient's recovery is right, this factor disappears soon, however the answer to this hormonal change can vary considerably from one patient to another.
Another factor that must be considered as possible cause of hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery (or any bariatric procedure) is emotional stress. So far we have focused on the hormonal and physical changes in the body because of what could be classified as own physical stress related to the procedure, but the emotional stress also plays an important role so it is advisable to seek to keep stress levels as low possible.
Finally we must not forget that the progressive baldness or hair loss with advancing age also has a genetic factor (inherited) against which you can’t do much besides of what we recommend for any postoperative patient following gastric sleeve.
How to prevent hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery?
The most important thing to prevent hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery is that you should be physically and mentally prepared for the procedure, to achieve this, you must have proper communication with your surgeon and preferably have a clear idea of what constitutes surgery and the post-operative diet following gastric sleeve procedure.
If the patient is aware of the type and quality of nutrition to be carried out after the procedure, the chances of losing a considerable amount of hair are very low, at least in the case of the gastric sleeve.
The patient must receive adequate guidance as to which high protein foods can and should eat and which supplements will help prevent hair loss.
Specific recommendations to prevent hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery
1. High protein diet (good quality protein, such as Unjury ® and most of the options sold in stores like GNC ® (Isopure®, MYOPLEX®, etc)
2. Bariatric Multivitamin (there are multiple options from several companies, for example: Unjury ®, Bariatric Advantage ®, Bariatric Fusion ®, etc)
- Folates (Folic Acid)
- Calcium citrate
3. Emotional stress reduction: Although this is always easier said than done, is a recommendation that is theoretically simple to comply with and is entirely up to the patient so, how to achieve this? there are several ways and depend heavily on each person, but activities such as hobbies, hiking outdoors, sharing time with loved ones, sports, etc. can contribute to stress reduction.
Many patients are concerned about the final results after surgery, we always tell them not to overwhelm with very close monitoring of their weight and not to use the scale regularly but only sporadically. If surgery was performed by expert hands and the patient follows the instructions the results will come sooner or later.
4. Do not exceed the low intake of calories and nutrients: When patients see the great results in terms of weight loss after gastric sleeve, some want to accelerate the process and further reduce their calorie intake and thus nutrients, this, although leading to a more rapid weight loss, it will be an unsafe and unhealthy way that can lead to a state of malnutrition (an overweight or obese patient does not necessarily reflect a good nutritional status). Our suggestion is to adhere to the post-operative diet guide provided by the bariatric group you are choosing, they should provide you with this information if it is a serious and professional group.
As you can see when it comes to gastric sleeve surgery, it is possible to prevent or at least minimize considerably the chances of hair loss. There will be specific cases in which the loss can’t be avoided a 100% but if you follow the simple recommendations provided here and by your group, the period of loss will be much shorter and the recovery will be much faster.
Read our article on Gastric Sleeve Surgery Side Effects if you want to know more about the possible side effects of surgery.
The gastric sleeve procedure in México is totally safe, we invite you to get a free evaluation with us and share your questions about the gastric sleeve cost in México, side effects, etc.
We invite you to read our most popular blog articles:
- Gastric Sleeve Pre-op diet
- 18 Tips to prepare for Gastric Sleeve surgery
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery Side Effects
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Written by: Gabriel Rosales
Dr. Gabriel Rosales is a highly skilled, board certified surgeon in constant pursuit of learning the latest innovations in the weight loss surgery field to give his patients the best care possible.