Hair Loss After Gastric Bypass

My body has gone through a lot of changes since surgery. One of the toughest things for my self image has been the hair loss. I’m not going bald by any means, and I know that it could be a lot worse…but I really don’t like how much scalp I’m showing these days.

There are a few reasons why hair loss happens after surgery. It can be a result of the trauma of surgery, from the anesthesia, or from nutritional deficiencies. For most people, there is a delay of 2-9 months before the thinning occurs. I started noticing it around the 3 month mark. At 5 months, it’s even more pronounced. Also, the texture of my hair has changed. It’s less shiny and more coarse.

Everytime I brush my hair, or run my fingers through my hair, I have strands come loose. The loss appears even more dramatic with my hair being so long (about halfway down my back). If I  run my hand across a surface (such as my bed or desk at work), the stray hairs are there too. The most breakage and loss happens near the front of my head, so I’ve had to find creative ways to part my hair and pin my bangs so it’s less noticeable.

There’s no magic cure for the hair loss, but I’ve upped my protein intake, started taking biotin, and switched to higher quality, less damaging hair products. I have been heat-styling less, which means it’s up in a loose bun most days. I avoid tight ponytails so I don’t lose extra hair from the elastics.

One of the common debates I hear about weight loss surgery is health vs vanity/beauty. My primary reason for having weight loss surgery was to improve my health, but there definitely was an element of vanity to it. Of course I want to appear more trim and attractive. But I feel conflicted about complaining about my hair loss because it IS vain. I’d rather have thin hair and a healthy body, but it is a tough adjustment.

Luckily, almost all post-operative hair loss will improve after time. As tempted as I’ve been to grab a box of Minoxidil at the drug store, I know I need to be patient with my body and wait it out. Unless I point it out, most people don’t notice the hair loss….but they do notice the 85 pounds I’ve lost.


  1. Just went to my monthly support group meeting and there was a gal who said her hair finally stopped shedding when she really made sure she was taking in enough protein everyday. I think she was off proteins shakes but she went ahead and added it back in to her morning breakfast ritual.

    By the way I just signed up for MyFitnessPal, and I’m kind of not happy with the way it makes a lot of assumptions. My doctor wants me losing way more than 2 pounds a week but that’s the most it’ll let you set… plus, when you look at your daily nutritional usage, protein is set to 40 but they give you an allowance for something like 150 grams of carbs. Do you know if there’s a way you can change that?

    I’m down 22 pounds in 5 weeks–not very much compared to some others, but I’ve also started working out pretty hard, so it may be that I’m gaining some muscle; who knows. I still have a swollen esophagus from my hiatal hernia so it’s REAL tough to swallow anything.

    • 22lbs is better than no pounds. Gotta quit comparing yourself to others 🙂

    • I’ve definitely upped my protein intake since I started noticing the hair loss. I get bored with it, but I start out almost every morning with a protein shake that gives me 30g.

      I don’t really *use* MyFitnessPal for tracking anything other than my weight. I think they have the best looking widget to put on my blog sidebar, but I don’t really track my food with it. It suggests I have 2200 calories a day – nope, not going to happen!

  2. Hey.. hang in there. Are you eating enough protein? A few years ago, I was on some medication that caused hair loss and the front of my head area is a bit low on hair but I wear a lot of cute head bands to cover it up and no one is any wiser 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    Did you notice your hair coming out recently or has this been a gradual progression since surgery?

    • My hair was normal for about 3 months. I remember the day it started coming out well. I had been brushing my hair in the bathroom at work, and was shocked by how much was falling out. I then took my lunch break to GNC to buy myself some Biotin and more protein powder. It’s come out in clumps a few times, but otherwise it’s about twice as much loss as normal.

  4. I had no idea about the hair loss until we talked about it at Type-A. I was surprised at how much came out – but you still have plenty of beautiful hair! Maybe your hair just wanted to be lighter too? 🙂

    • Haha that must be it! I don’t think it would look quite as significant if my hair were shorter. I’m thinking of trimming 2-3 inches so it looks more healthy.

  5. Hey Sweetheart!!! With the heat of summer having less of the thick hair could be a welcomed partner instead of an adversary. Like you I have an incredibly amount of thick hair and with stress I too loose large chuncks at a time. After 2 weeks of showering we pulled out a large mass of hair weighing a little over a pound of hair. I was mortified!!! I know this may not compare to everything you are going through with the weightloss surgery. I just wanted to let you know that you are not the only female our age that feels the need to run for the nioxin. Love you and you are always in my prayers. Coryn says “Hi!!!” & says she misses you and Rosie & sends love as well.
    Coral Jolee

  6. Esther Longmore says:

    You KNOW I can empathize with hair loss. It’s not fun! And I don’t care what anyone says… Hair is not just vanity. A woman’s hair is supposed to be among her glories in life. Plus, our society accepts bald men. It does not accept bald women or women whose scalp is almost entirely visible (like mine). I understand all too well the toll it can take on your self image. I am faced with an ache and a longing every time I look at myself, and each day I have to wear a hat because a pony tail day is impossible. Yes, hair is merely outer beauty, but visual aspects about ourselves can affect us on a much deeper level.

  7. Esther Longmore says:

    *ponytail 😉

  8. Suzanne Becker says:

    As someone who knows (and loves) you personally….I don’t notice it at all. I am at about the 3 1/2 month mark myself and I know it’s coming. Get ready to talk me out of my tree! <3

  9. It’s been seven years since my surgery and my hair has not grown back. It’s dull, thin and lacks luster. I had beautiful thick hair before and now that I lost weight I have hair Loss and saggy skin that makes me look ugly!!!! I can’t win!!!

  10. Thanks. This helps. I am on my third month and my hair is coming out like that too. I feel the same as you but I have been drinking a protein shake and taking the biotin for over a month. I wonder if I should make my protein shakes twice a day instead?

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