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Gastric Bypass Hair Loss: Can It Be Avoided?

Updated on November 25, 2008
Hair Growth Cycle
Hair Growth Cycle

Why Gastric Bypass Surgery Causes Hair Loss

Many people who have gastric bypass surgery are concerned about hair loss. They wonder, how much hair will I really lose? How quickly will it grow back?

And most importantly, is there anything I can do about it?

To answer that question, we need to understand why gastric bypass surgery leads to some hair loss in the first place.

We all lose a certain amount of hair every day as part of the natural growth cycle. But after gastric bypass surgery, the body is forced to live on a drastically reduced amount of nutrients.

It compensates by conserving. The limited resources that do come in are diverted to where they're needed most - major organs like your heart and lungs. So suddenly, your hair is forced to do without the nutrients it needs to grow and be healthy.

More follicles than normal enter "resting" phase (which is when an old strand of hair falls out, making room for a new strand to grow in it's place). But it doesn't produce new strands. This leads to thinner hair.

Some hair thinning is unavoidable after gastric bypass surgery
Some hair thinning is unavoidable after gastric bypass surgery

Can You Minimize Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass?

It doesn't seem that there's any way to completely avoid losing some hair after gastric bypass surgery. The drastic reduction in nutrients is too big of a shock to the system - not to mention the damage that comes from the anesthesia.

But it stands to reason that you can minimize hair loss by getting as many nutrients as possible to the roots of your hair.

  1. Proteins are essential building blocks of hair. After gastric bypass surgery, most doctors recommend you get at least 60 grams of protein in every day. Naturally, this is difficult when your stomach is the size of an egg. Fortunately, there are hundreds of different kinds of protein shakes and supplements to choose from. Find one you like and get as much of or more than the protein your doc recommends.
  2. Biotin is a B-vitamin that is said to encourage healthy hair growth. Take it daily, in addition to your other supplements.
  3. The company Pilgrims Pride has a supplement called Silica. It contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, and horsetail extract. I don't know which of these ingredients is responsible (or perhaps it's the combination) but these vitamins not only help my hair look thicker and healthier, they made my fingernails grow for the first time ever

Making sure your body is getting all the nutrients it possibly can will help minimize hair loss after gastric bypass surgery.

Increasing blood flow to the roots of your hair helps stimulate growth
Increasing blood flow to the roots of your hair helps stimulate growth

Stimulate Regrowth With Scalp Massage

Hair loss after gastric bypass surgery usually lasts about 3 to 6 months. Hopefully, during that time you've been getting in as much nutrients as possible and the amount of hair you've lost is minimal.

But you still want to start growing your hair back as soon as possible.

For most gastric bypass surgery patients, regrowth starts by the end of the first year. But you can speed up the process somewhat, as well as minimize the loss, by making sure the nutrients you consume actually reach the roots of your hair, where they're needed.

You can do this by massaging your scalp. Scalp massage increases blood flow to your scalp, and therefore the roots of your hair. If that blood is rich in the nutrients we discussed above, they'll be there to nourish your hair.

Below is a video on how to do a proper scalp massage:

Regrow More Hair Faster With Scalp Massage

Hair Loss Is A Fact Of Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery

As I said before, there's really no avoiding some hair loss after gastric bypass surgery. For some people, it's pretty traumatic to see handfuls of hair in your shower drain, or in your brush every morning.

But the truth is that while some people lose more hair than others, nobody goes completely bald. And the loss is only temporary.

Whether that temporary loss is enough of a drawback to prevent you from having gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery is a very personal, individual decision.

But it's also a decision that needs a lot more information than what's on this hub.

You can find a whole lot more info on gastric bypass hair loss, as well as an honest look at life after gastric bypass surgery on my blog,

You can also find an unbiased look at the Pros and Cons of Gastric Bypass Surgery on my hub of the same name.


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    • profile image

      Shannon 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the info....had my GP four months ago and the hair loss is just starting.

    • lovemy2girls9905 profile image

      lovemy2girls9905 7 years ago from Whitman, MA

      Great Post, very helpful. My gastric bypass is scheduled for May 12th, and I've been concerned about the hair loss.

    • profile image

      Tina  8 years ago

      Thank you so much for this information! It is very helpful.