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Hair Loss after Surgery, Weight Loss Surgery Transplant or Restoration and How to Cope With It

Hair Loss after Surgery
Hair Loss after Surgery

Is it possible lose hair after surgery? Is it temporary or permanent loss of hair? While you and I normally lose few strands of hair, some people who undergo some surgeries including hair restoration procedures can still experience this problem. Get all insights on post-surgery hair loss, after weight loss, transplant or restoration.

Hair loss after transplantation or replacement

How does hair loss occur after transplantation? To understand that, let us look into the types, techniques and possibility of experiencing hair loss after surgery in terms of how growth is affected or the complications which come after transplantation or replacement.

There are a few techniques used in transplantation or replacement of scalp hair. These include:

  • Grafting – where small pieces of scalp tissue bearing hair are obtained and planted on areas where there is hair thinning or patches or baldness
  • Tissue expansion – This involves use of a special device to help bald scalp grow hair adjacent to the existing hair. A different operation is thereafter required to complete tissue expansion
  • Flap surgery often which is applicable to large areas with baldness
  • Scalp reduction

Notably, there are possible complications that could result after such replacement techniques. Some of these complications incldue the following:

1. Hair growth with bald patches

Sometimes hair growth which takes course after transplantation will be left with patchy sites on the scalp. At times the grafts may fail.

2. Scalp bleeding or scarring

Bleeding will more likely occur even after replacement procedures due to the fact that your scalp has been affected and this could result in trauma. In case there is repeated surgery in order to try and rectify the patchy hair re-growth, scars may form on the scalp.

These scars can suppress or interfere with hair growth cycle hence reduced hair growth.

3. Infection

Like any other surgical operations, transplantation that requires incisions can possibly result to infection on your scalp.

NOTE: Certain hair replacement or restoration procedures cannot be of help to those without scalp hair due to hereditary loss.

Besides the above other side effects include:

When does hair loss after surgery – replacement or restoration begin? Hair will start to fall out or shed at different times depending on technique applied. Nevertheless, time periods would at times vary with number of sessions a patient undergoes or is yet to undergo in case one needs to achieve results worth their satisfactory quest.

Hair loss after bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery

A more exact cause or reasons for hair loss after weight loss surgery are unknown, however, there is reportedly a likeliness in losing hair. According to Sage Bariatric Institute, hair loss after surgery that aims at losing one’s weight can be associated with telogen effluvium.

Telogen effluvium has a couple of causes including psychological stress, high fevers, childbirth, severe infections and surgery. Although this form or type of hair loss is prominent on the scalp, other body areas with hair can be affected. Nonetheless, loss of scalp hair linked with bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery is uncommon in gastric band patients.

With weight loss surgery, hair loss (if it occurs) normally starts abruptly at least 3 – 4 months (after surgery). However, hair thinning or fall rarely goes beyond 6 months.

The good thing is that hair loss after bariatric surgery is in many cases temporary since telogen effluvium has to do with the growth cycle.  This implies that hair regrowth will start after (at most 6 months) these episodes of hair thinning and falling out.

Ultimately, when hair grows back some people often find the hair a bit different and feel it’s not theirs. With rapid weight loss, some hair loss (falling out in clumps) may at some point occur. Top dermatologists and hair restoration experts link this drastic loss in weight to what can translate or destabilize the thyroid leading to hormonal changes. Take note that these changes are due to hormones produced by the thyroid.

Once the hormones are back to normal, your hair will start to grow. The hair that grows back may not be typically resembling in terms of quality or caliber. Therefore, it could be curly or appear rugged in some manner.

In addition, hair loss after bariatric surgery is more likely to occur or create negative influence or impact for the following reasons.

  • Rapid weight loss especially with a poor diet such as low protein intake
  • Trauma
  • Excessive pressure on the hair follicles
  • Acute illness or chronic disease such as liver disease
  • Hypothyroidism or thyroid disease
  • Chronic Iron deficiency
  • Lack of sufficient amounts of Zinc, Biotin, Potassium, vitamin B6, Phosphorus, or essential fatty acids
  • Toxicity in body such as those caused by dangerous metals
  • Medications such as beta-blockers and anticoagulants
  • Certain medications required during surgical hair restoration can affect hair growth
  • Excess vitamin A or vitamin overdose

Hair loss after weight loss surgery is sometimes very distressing if – in any case – it possibly does occur. Prior to hair transplantation, ask your surgeon as many questions as possible to help either party develop realistic expectations.

Can hair loss be caused by anesthesia?

Many surgical operations normally require this form of skin numbing to prevent painful experiences as surgery is going on. So, does anesthesia result in hair loss?

A standing on whether this can really cause hair loss is debatable but its truthfulness solely relies on research which so far is suggestive of it. For instance, there is a strong scientific revelation on possibility of anesthesia slowing down cell division. Consequently, hair follicle cells are forced to enter resting phase.

However, plastic surgeons understand that it is less likely surgery which involves a local anesthesia will have any effects hair growth after restoration.

Living and coping with hair loss after surgery

Patients who undergo a successful weight loss surgery are a bit lucky to continue with their normal life without much disturbance.

For those who have a hair transplantation or replacement surgery can be discouraged if things don’t go their way especially when there are much expectations.

What happens if there is no hair regrowth?

If your weight is back to its normal and stable yet you continue to lose hair (i.e. your hair shows no signs of starting to grow again), see your doctor.

Even though, experts in bariatric surgery recommend following some medical and routine including dietary checks. The following are some of the expert tips for individuals who have had a weight loss surgery and are experiencing hair fall as a result.

  • Consuming a at least 60g of protein every day
  • To increase your chances of correct protein intake include a protein in each meal
  • Alternatives to protein foods such as powdered protein supplements should be used under the help of a nutritionist or specialist to avoid overdose
  • Prioritize in quality protein which comprise basic building blocks of amino acids if you have a problem with digestive system
  • Bariatric-specific vitamin and mineral supplements should be taken as recommended by your doctor

Is it preventable?

Unfortunately, preventing hair fall or shedding after weight loss surgery is almost impossible. Luckily, one may forego the possible side-effects by talking to the surgeon or physician if need be. The bottom line is to ensure that you make follow ups and continually communicate with your healthcare provider whenever you are asked to.

Further Suggested Reading
References and Citations
  1. Hair Replacement. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/programs/plastic-surgery/services/cosmetic. Accessed online on 3rd April 2017
  2. Preventing Hair Loss after Weight Loss Surgery: https://www.advancedweightlossnj.com/after-bariatric-surgery/hair-loss.php
  3. Telogen Effluvium: http://patient.info/health/telogen-effluvium#nav-3
  4. Anesthesia: Maximizing Patient Comfort in Surgical Hair Restoration. International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. http://www.ishrs.org/content/surgical-hair-restoration-hair-loss
  5. CHICAGO HAIR INSTITUTE. Can General Anesthesia Cause Hair Loss?

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