Hair Loss After Weight Loss Surgery

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

January 6, 2013

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Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery

Blog about hair loss after weight loss surgery including video from bariatric dietitian Steph Wagner

Why? What can you do?


Watch the video or scroll for written information!

I recorded this video “Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery” in my guest bedroom in 2013 when I was very new to blogging and making videos. Not bad for a newbie! I’ve had two babies since and made lots of new videos!

The content is all still true even if there has been a good amount of time since I created it!

Blog information written below was updated in 2019. 

What the hair loss is…

This answer depends on how long it has been since your surgery.

If someone is more than a year out of surgery and losing hair, I would be more concerned about nutrition related deficiencies and looking closely at the changes in their lab work. This reiterates the importance of staying on track with your vitamins forever and ever amen.

However, if a patient is less than a year out of surgery and in particular three to six months from surgery, I would say it’s a normal part of the process.

The reason for hair loss after surgery is the same for hair loss after most major surgeries.

In fact, one of the best explanations for hair loss after surgery is on a website about Joint Replacement Surgery.

Personally, I have had two c-sections to deliver my children. If you’ve ever birthed children you know the experience of shedding hair and then little wispy hairs coming back. Shown below is my own thinning hair 6 months after having a baby.

This is the stress process of having a major surgery. As the Peer Well blog I linked above explains in more detail, there are two phases of hair growth. When you have surgery, the stress may inhibit new hair growth but “resting” hair doesn’t fall out until a few months later.

This shows up with thinning hair in those months following surgery. New growth does come again which means – baby hairs will soon being to sprout.

What the hair loss is not

More often than not, in the early months post-op the hair loss is not nutrition related. Certainly you want to stay on track with protein and vitamin recommendations for your overall health, but increasing  protein and vitamins may make no difference in your hair changes.

Spending loads of money on shampoos and vitamins may end up being money spent futilely. Always talk with your team before you add vitamins they didn’t recommend for you. If it doesn’t hurt you but makes you feel more comfortable to take something else, that’s a personal decision.

PS for your nerds out there that love a systematic review – here is one on hair loss after bariatric surgery!

What biotin can do

Most bariatric specific vitamins will already contain biotin and because hair loss in the first year is not likely nutrition related, adding more biotin may not provide much difference in the hair loss itself.

What it can help with is make the hair you have healthier and the regrowth that will come down the road healthy as well. No need to overdo it, but if adding biotin brings you some peace in having pretty, healthy hair again you certainly can.

How to know if it IS nutrition related

I need to do my due diligence to also express the importance of good nutrition after surgery. After all, I am a Bariatric Surgery Dietitian and I DO want you to focus on protein and quality vitamins.

Research tells us one of the biggest predictors of weight loss and success after surgery is related to frequency of consultations and visits to your bariatric surgery team. This is true not only for your weight loss but your overall health as the team can help monitor symptoms (including hair loss) and review any changes in your lab work.

quote your bariatric team can help monitor symptoms including hair loss and review changes in your lab work

If you moved or need a new bariatric team, search in your area and ask if they offer video or phone visits. Some offices are now offering tele-health options for patients who need to travel a considerable distance.

By the way, if someone is having hair loss and it’s been more than a year since surgery, I would take a close look at their zinc levels, iron levels and protein levels.

For more information on what vitamins to take long-term after surgery, visit this blog post What Vitamins Does a Post-Op Really Need.

So what can you do?

While there isn’t much you can do about keeping the hair loss from happening,  what you CAN do is get creative in covering up the changes until things settle in again.

First, talk to your hair stylist.

You might be amazed at the input stylist have during this season of your hair life. I wanted to grow my hair out longer when my baby was three months old so I could put my hair in a ponytail (what mother of two has time to fix her hair!?) My stylist knew my hair loss was about to start and kindly re-directed me to wait unless I wanted hair wings flying out of my ponytail.

Instead we did a style that would conceal my re-growing hair underneath:

You can also use different headbands, new hats or try a short hairstyle you’ve always thought about and embrace that now is a good time. Go start pinning short hairstyles you can get excited about! This does not mean that you have to chop your hair either. There are plenty of ways to hide the changes without chopping.

Having weight loss surgery and still have questions?

If you’re considering or even working towards bariatric surgery, I am excited for you! I’m Steph Wagner, bariatric dietitian and owner of this site. Instead of seeing patients individually as in years past, I now utilize this subscription website to help support patients with blogs, videos, meal plans, recipes, a members community and more.

Find out more about membership!

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