Hair Loss And Regrowth After Gastric Bypass

dyeing hair after gastric bypassMy body has changed in so many ways in the last 14 months. My whole-body size is different. My skin is different. My nails are different. And my hair is different.

Last summer, I was really freaking out about hair loss. I had been warned before surgery that the hair loss would come, and it started being very noticeable around 4 months post-op. Last summer I was in a bit of an emotional funk, and the hair loss was part of it.  So many things about my body were changing, and I my body felt a little out of control.

I tried to combat the hair loss with upping my daily protein intake and taking biotin pills.  But the damage was already done. Anesthesia from surgery is traumatic for your body, and there’s no way to counteract the way that your hair follicles will handle it. Even with extra protein and biotin, the breakage and hair loss was out of my control for several months. Biotin helps initiate new hair growth…which I noticed on less-desirable places on my body (like my thighs, neck, chin, etc). I felt fuzzy everywhere…but the regrowth on my head finally started.

after dying hair blackNow 14 months post-op, a lot of my regrowth is wispy, but long enough to style in with the rest of my hair. But, what I’ve noticed. I have a regimen with shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave in conditioner, detangler, and heat protectant. I can make it look pretty good, but it’s not at healthy as it was pre-op.

It’s changed in these ways:

  • Curl: It’s stripped out almost all of my natural curl. If I let it air dry, I’ll get some wave to it, but I think the days of scrunch-and-go are over
  • Texture: My hair feels more coarse, and the regrowth is either baby fine or crazy thick and wiry
  • Thickness: I don’t have thin patches anymore, but I have about 1/3 less hair than before surgery
  • Color: It’s lighter than it was before surgery. It’s gone from being stark raven black to just dark brown. Some areas, like right around my hairline, are very light…with almost a blonde sheen to them. My grays are more wiry and noticeable.

I’m vain, so I think I’ll be coloring my hair from now on.

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.