Why weight loss surgery leads to hair loss

Posted at 10:23 AM, Apr 13, 2016

I called this blog "Losing It" because it works on so many levels: As a TV producer, I'm constantly on the verge of losing my mind. Obviously, I'm losing a lot of weight because I had weight loss surgery. But I'm also losing something else right now: my hair.

I knew it was going to happen and I was prepared for it, but it was still a shock when I looked down after running my hands through my wet hair and saw a clump of brown strands in my fingers. I started finding dozens of hairs on my pillows each morning, they'd stick to the back of my sweaters, and pile up on the white tile in the bathroom. At this point, I'm shedding worse than my cats.

My insurance company and my surgeon's office required I attend seven months of classes to prepare me for the changes that come after weight loss surgery. One of the things they cover in those classes is hair loss, since most people who have WLS go through it. Hair starts falling out about five months after surgery as a reaction to sudden nutritional changes.

You can try to minimize how much hair you lose by focusing on taking in enough protein, but when your stomach is the size of your thumb, it's hard to eat enough. Hormones also play a role in post-surgical hair loss. Fat stores hormones, and when you lose weight quickly those hormones flood your body, and things get all out of whack.

Some people swear by hair products infused with a supplement called Biotin. I didn't go that route. I put too much money and time into finding hair products I love to abandon those for a few months. Instead, I got a perm. I figured adding body to my waves and damaging the hair follicles a little bit will make it look like I had more hair. It seems to have worked; people who know me well can see my hair is a little thinner, but most people don't notice.

And honestly, I'll take a few months of hair loss in exchange for being healthier and happier than I ever thought I'd be! I'm adding my latest before (on the left) and after (on the right) picture.