9 Simple Ways to Stop Hair Loss after Bariatric Surgery
9 Simple Ways to Stop Hair Loss after Bariatric Surgery
Babyboomers.com Staff

Hair loss is very common after bariatric surgery. The hair loss may be due to the rapid loss of weight and a lowered intake of protein in the diet brought about by the surgery. It can also be caused by post-surgery stress. As such, it is important to know which ways to reduce and eventually stop it after undergoing this life changing procedure. This article shows you 9 simple ways which will save your hair while you work on saving your health.

But First, What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a collective term referring to surgical procedures done to enable you to lose weight. It reduces weight by either gastric restriction thus limiting your eating or by hindering absorption of nutrients by the gut, or both. The surgery is often recommended in instances where a person’s weight may cause problems to their health and other weight loss methods such as exercising and dieting have proven futile. Such instances may include obesity and overweight, hypertension, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is often conducted via a minimally invasive procedure. Some of the commonly performed types of bariatric surgery include:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure involves surgically reducing the stomach. It is performed along the greater curvature. The procedure mostly aims at reducing the stomach to around 15% of its initial size. The end result is a smaller stomach, thus less food consumed eventually leading to weight loss.
  • Gastric bypass. In this procedure, the stomach is divided into two sections. The small intestines are then made to “bypass” one stomach section and attached to the smaller, upper section. The result is a smaller stomach. With a small stomach, you will attain satiety with less food. Some foods will also not be digested. The overall effect is a drop in weight.
  • Duodenal Switch & Biliopancreatic diversion.

That said, here are the ways to ensure your hair stays intact after a bariatric surgery procedure:

Increase Amount of Protein in the Diet

According to an article by Food, protein is necessary for healthy hair. Hair is composed of protein fiber. Bariatric through gastric restriction may lead to ingestion of inadequate protein. The overall effect of reduced protein is hair loss or unhealthy hair. To prevent post-surgery hair loss, you may need to increase your intake of protein. You can do this by ensuring you consume at least 60g of protein daily. To increase your intake, you may consider having a protein source with every meal or snack you take. You may also take protein supplements and protein powder with a doctor’s instruction.  You may consume some protein rich foods such as lean meats, beans, eggs, soy and dairy products.

Take Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin A is known to aid in cell growth, including hair follicle cells. In addition to this, most B vitamins are known to be essential for healthy hair growth. Biotin is one such crucial B Vitamin for hair. The mechanism of bariatric surgery, works in such a way that it may either cause malabsorption of nutrients, or by gastric restriction. Either way, the surgery may cause a decrease in the amount of vitamins getting into your system causing little hair growth. Restriction on the amount of dietary foods that may be consumed post-surgery may also lead to ingestion of less vitamin rich foods, thus increasing chances of deficiency. As such, vitamins supplements are highly essential to ensure you get enough vitamins in your body for healthy hair growth. Make sure you consult with a dietitian first, and stick to the specific instructions you are given.

Consume a Healthy, Nutrient Dense Diet

The importance of a healthy diet on nearly all aspects of life is evident. To maintain healthy hair after surgery, you will need to eat the right kind of foods in the right amounts. Increase your protein intake to the maximum healthy level recommended for you. Also ensure you take the right amount of carbohydrates and fats. The amount you ought to take depends on your surgery outcomes, weight and overall health status. Therefore, ensure you speak to a dietitian or nutritionist to know exactly how much you should take. Ensure the foods you eat are nutrient dense so that you reap the maximum amount of nutrients for the smallest portions possible. In the same light, ensure you avoid eating junk foods and those with empty calories. You may want to consider not consuming alcohol for some time after the procedure.

Increase Your Iron Intake

The mineral Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an important component in hair growth. Therefore, having low iron levels in the body hinders hair growth eventually leading to hair loss. To prevent iron deficiency induced hair loss after bariatric surgery, it is important to take an iron rich diet. You may also take iron mineral tablets to get those levels up. Some of the iron rich foods to take include:

  • Kidney beans
  • Liver
  • Chick pea
  • Red meat

Ensure you take these foods in moderation and according to any instructions the doctor gives.  Also ensure you take Vitamin C rich foods alongside your iron rich foods. Vitamin C enhances Iron absorption in the body thus ensuring you get the maximum value for your consumption.

Increase Your Intake of Zinc

Zinc is essential for hair growth and repair. As a matter of fact, loss of hair usually symbolizes zinc deficiency. High zinc intake is also associated with hair loss. To be safe, it is therefore better to consume dietary zinc than zinc supplements unless in extreme cases of deficiency. Some sources of dietary zinc are spinach, lentils, oysters and pumpkin seeds. A great way to get these into your system is for example by adding spinach and ground pumpkin seeds to your smoothies when snacking.

Check Your Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for hair growth. However excessive vitamin A also leads to hair loss. You should therefore check with your doctor to ensure you consume the right amounts of vitamin A specifically for your needs.

Proper Post-Surgery Stress Management

Stress is a major cause of hair loss. It is normal to get stressed out occasionally especially after a thing as crucial as surgery. Some of the things that are likely to cause stress include:

  • Stress from surgery induced pain or trauma
  • Worrying about the healing and recovery process
  • Anxiety from thinking about the post-surgery results

It is therefore very important to be on the lookout for any mental health dips after surgery. Since stress is unavoidable in some cases, knowing what to do during stressful situations is critical. Some ways to handle stress include:

  • Breathing exercises. Take deep breaths and hold after every inhalation then slowly exhale. Hold your breath for however long you are comfortable with. Doing this helps you feel calmer.
  • Meditation. Meditating has a way of shutting down external noise and bringing stillness and peace. Consider trying this in cases of anxiety.
  • Journaling. Writing things down helps you declutter your mind and eventually release stress and tension.
  • Therapy and counseling from a professional. Consider seeking professional help in cases of extreme stress. Talking to friends and loved ones about your mental and emotional health also goes a long way.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Drinking water is a solution to many body and health issues, including hair health.  Staying hydrated keeps your body at its optimum state to absorb and utilize nutrients. Therefore, all the essential nutrients required for hair growth will be absorbed better if you're hydrated, thus eliminating hair loss. Drinking water also makes your hair stronger and encouraging its growth. When you are dehydrated, your hair does not grow. Continuous extreme dehydration can therefore lead to loss of hair. You should consume at least 2 liters or more of water every day after your surgery for optimal health. Attaining 100% hydration is usually hard. In case you are having trouble doing this, you may want to download a software application to remind you when to drink and keep track of how much. You may also place all the water you are supposed to drink in one place, for example, a 2 liter bottle. Doing this helps you remember how much you have left every time you drink.

Consume Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a great boost to hair health. Some of the sources for these fatty acids include:

  • Fatty fish such as oily sardine and salmon
  • Chia seeds,
  • Soy bean oil
  • Foods fortified with omega 3

Hair loss after bariatric surgery can be scary and often stressful. It is important to note however, that the hair loss is normal and often temporary. The hair grows back after some time. Taking simple dietary measures such as healthy eating and vitamin supplementation are key to ensuring your hair stays healthy and on your head. Ensure you consult with your doctor or a qualified dietitian about what to eat, and how much. This will help you stay afloat of your weight loss goals while keeping you healthy at the same time.

About the Author

Dustin Flick is a professional coach and blogger who writes about his own battle with hair loss and even documents the specific hair loss treatment that helped him bounce back from a receding hairline and thinning hair.

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