Hair today and tomorrow........

By Jane Sylvestre, RD - 8/16/2016

Hair is the Scoop!

Hair loss can be frightening.  No one wants to lose their hair.  Unfortunately, there is a link between weight loss surgery and hair loss.  Up to 40% of weight loss surgery patients will experience some hair loss.  Most patients ask about hair loss before it is even an issue.  One of the first questions I get from patient is, “How can I prevent losing my hair?”

Let me give you a little background first.  There are two phases of hair growth.  The Anagen phase is the growth phase and the Telogen phase is the resting phase when hair does not grow.  Typically, we are in the Anagen phase 90% and Telogen phase 10% of the time which means that we are usually growing much more hair than is falling out.  These percentages can change under different circumstances.

The circumstances that set up weight loss surgery patients for hair loss include:  major surgery (stress to the body), significant weight loss, severe dieting or very limited intake, inadequate protein intake and underactive thyroid, iron deficiency or heavy metal toxicity.  Medications such as beta blockers, excessive vitamin A and anticoagulants can also play a role.  The condition associated with weight loss surgery is called Telegen Effluvium.  The hair loss usually starts abruptly and rarely lasts longer than 6 months.  The most typical loss occurs at 3-4 months post surgery.  During this time, more hair follicles go into the resting phase.  Fortunately, the hair follicles are not damaged and hair growth resumes in time.  As Adam always says- we don’t have any bald patients (due to surgery)!

One of the primary nutritional factors that result in hair loss is iron deficiency.  A simple blood test will easily determine if you have it.  If lab values suggest an iron deficiency, we will supplement at that time.  It is very important that patients remember to take their vitamins.  The best bet is to take a bariatric specific vitamin such as those found at bariatricadvantage.com, celebratevitamins.com or unjury.com.  Of course, you can also buy supplements over the counter, but be sure to meet 100% RDA for zinc, folate, b-vitamins and zinc.  Some patients take an extra B-complex which would not be harmful, yet could have some benefit in hair loss.  Many patients also add Biotin (the hair and nails supplement).  There is not enough research to back up Biotin as helping with hair loss post surgery, but there is a possible positive relationship.  I would take it myself if I had the issue.

The best advice is to relax because your hair will grow back.  You won’t lose all of it. Even emotional stress is not helpful.   Check with your MD for any other possible causes.  Make sure you are eating enough protein.  I can go over your requirement with you, but is typically a minimum of 50 grams per day for women and 70 grams per day for men.  Don’t try to overcome the hair loss by overeating and sabotaging your weight loss efforts.  Take the following supplements:

  • Bariatric specific supplement as noted above or an equivalent over the counter vitamin.

  • 500-600 mg calcium citrate +vitamin D twice per day (calcium will come with vitamin D added)

  • Add iron supplement if iron lab values are low.   Separate calcium supplement from iron supplement as calcium prevents absorption of iron.

  • Consider additional B complex.

  • Consider 5000 mcg Biotin/day.

  • Don’t forget 500 mcg B12/day.

  • Eat a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish like salmon) or consider a fatty acid supplement.

Don’t stress.  You will be fine and your hair will thicken back up.  Take your supplements as suggested above and be sure to focus primarily on protein in your diet.  You will be fine in time.  Feel free to contact me if you have any additional concerns or questions at 508-668-4400 or janesylvestre@massweightloss.com.

Look for a nutrition class coming in September.  More info to come.

 

References

Jacques, J. Micronutrition for the Weight Loss Surgery patient. Edgemont, PA, Matrix Medical Communications, 2006.

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info@massweightloss.com

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