hair loss after weight loss surgery
Post Weight Loss Surgery
Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery

Hair loss after weight loss surgery is, unfortunately, quite common, occurring in nearly 80% of bariatric surgery patients. Losing hair is particularly common in the first few months when a patient loses weight rapidly. Hair loss after weight loss surgery is primarily due to the bodily stress associated with losing weight and nutritional deficiencies. 

Most patients will notice hair loss begin around 2 to 3 months post-op. It seems it is most significant, or at its worst, about 5 or 6 months post-op. Fortunately, hair loss after weight loss surgery will typically stop when the weight loss begins to slow down, and the patient reaches a more stable weight. 

Hair Loss after Bariatric SurgeryCauses of Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery

1. Body's Response to Surgery

Weight loss surgery is an invasive procedure that causes stress on the body and mind. It is not uncommon to experience hair loss after a stressful event when your hormones are off balance. 

Similarly, hair loss after bariatric surgery can result from rapidly losing weight during the first few months post-op. 

2. Rapid Weight Loss

After bariatric surgery, when you lose weight rapidly, your body will react in different ways, including losing hair. Hair loss is almost always a sign of some nutritional deficiency or hormonal change in your body. Your hair needs enough calories and nutrients to grow and stay strong. When you go through periods of rapid weight loss, especially when you are not getting adequate nutrition, your hair can become weak and begin falling out. 

Rapid weight loss has been linked to a condition called acute telogen effluvium (TE). TE is the second most common form of hair loss, according to dermatologists. TE typically begins around month 3 of your weight loss journey and ends by month 6. 

3. Nutritional Deficiencies

Patients who have weight loss surgery are at a greater risk of developing vitamin deficiencies after bariatric surgery. A nutritional deficiency is most commonly a result of malnutrition caused by not eating enough (nutritious) food or developing an eating disorder. However, after bariatric surgery, malnutrition is almost always a result of the procedure itself. 

The gastric bypass and the duodenal switch are both malabsorptive procedures, meaning you cannot absorb all the nutrients consumed. Combined with the effects of eating fewer calories due to the restrictive nature of all bariatric procedures, including the gastric sleeve, patients have a heightened risk of developing nutritional deficiencies after bariatric surgery. 

One study found a correlation between hair loss after weight loss surgery and low levels of zinc, folic acid, and ferritin (protein). 

How to Prevent Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery

Hair loss after weight loss surgery can be worrisome; it doesn't feel good when you lose chunks of hair after showering or brushing. Although some degree of hair loss is common in post-bariatric patients as they lose weight rapidly, sustained hair loss could result from a vitamin deficiency. 

A few studies reported that hair loss after weight loss surgery was most significant in younger women with low levels of zinc, folic acid, and ferritin (protein). Another study found supplementing with zinc could slow or prevent hair loss in post-bariatric patients. 

Although hair loss is not entirely preventable, there are methods to manage the degree of hair loss. 

1. Eat enough protein.

We recommend bariatric patients consume 80 to 100 grams of protein a day. This may be challenging within the first few weeks and months after weight loss surgery as your body adjusts to your new pouch size. One tip is to supplement with protein shakes. 

2. Take your bariatric vitamins.

Vitamins deficiencies are common in post-op patients due to the malabsorptive nature of the bariatric procedures. Therefore, your bariatric care team will recommend you take vitamins for life. These vitamins will also help manage hair loss after weight loss surgery. 

As mentioned above, patients who have low levels of zinc, folic acid, and ferritin are more likely to experience hair loss after weight loss surgery. Therefore we recommend you begin to supplement with zinc before your bariatric procedure and continue supplementation as prescribed by your bariatric surgeon.

You can also take biotin, also known as vitamin B7, to slow the loss and help with regrowth. Biotin stimulates keratin production in hair and can increase the rate of follicle development. It is best absorbed when consumed through the mouth. 


Hair loss after weight loss surgery is common, occurring in 80% of bariatric surgery patients. The good news is that hair loss after weight loss surgery will not last forever. It should begin to slow by month six, and it should grow back over time. 

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Mike Blaney, MD
Dr. Mike Blaney is a board-certified surgeon with over 20 years of experience in general and bariatric surgery. He is the founding physician of Live Healthy MD which has since been acquired by HCA and now operates under the name Doctors Specialists – Bariatrics and Surgical. Dr. Blaney is co-founder and CEO of Bariatric Centers of America and is fueled by a passion to cure the disease of obesity.
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