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Telogen Effluvium: Hair Loss After WLS (Weight Loss Surgery)

Posted On : September 14, 2014

Telogen Effluvium is the premature pushing of the hair root into a resting state and can be chronic or acute. It is usually brought on by a shock to your body such as high fevers, childbirth, severe infections, severe chronic illness, severe psychological stress, major surgery or illnesses, over or under active thyroid gland, crash diets with inadequate protein, and a variety of medications. Most hair loss from medications, is this type of hair loss, and the related medications include retinoids, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and NSAIDS (including ibuprofen). Supplements that can also cause or increase telogen effluvium are higher doses of iron and Vitamin A.

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Hair cycle

The hair begins to fall out in differing amounts and can start weeks to months after the initial shock to the body or medication initiation. The hair loss can continue up to 6 weeks and typically slows at 8 weeks after the start of the hair loss.

Weight loss surgical patients experience this due to the stress of surgery and the low protein state directly after surgery. Although there is no specific treatment for Telogen Effluvium, there are steps that can be taken to potentially slow the hair loss and help support the new hair growth.

The most important steps to take are to maintain your protein supplementation at a minimum of 80-100 grams of protein daily and hydration (at least 64 ounces daily) after weight loss surgery.

Hair loss pattern from telogen effluvium
Hair loss pattern from telogen effluvium

Protein, particularly L-lysine, are the building blocks of hair and nails, without adequate protein your body will forgo making hair and nails to maintain critical muscle mass. Also hydration is important to flush the body of toxins, due to fat breakdown in the liver during the rapid weight loss phase, that will prevent further new hair growth.

Vitamin B6 and B12 deficits can also contribute to hair loss. Multivitamin supplementation is essential to maintaining the required levels of these vitamins. The recommended multivitamin supplementation is two multivitamins daily that are equivalent to Centrum brand multivitamin.

Some people add Zinc supplements to increase hair production. However, if you are adding Zinc it is advised to also add a Copper supplement as they compete with each other for absorption. Copper is important for red blood cell production and a copper deficiency can exacerbate iron deficiency anemia. Inactivity can also decrease zinc levels, therefore exercise/activity will naturally maintain zinc levels.

Biotin is also a B vitamin that can be helpful in new hair growth.

Folicure is a supplement tablet that contains many vitamins and minerals that some people find helpful for hair re-growth. They also manufacture a shampoo that can be used.

There are many shampoos and topical treatments that people use and report satisfaction in their results. However, it is important to note that a topical treatment may make your hair appear thicker but the hair regrowth will only be supported by internal nutritional maintenance. Minoxidil is a liquid vasodilator medication applied to the scalp that is the exception to this rule and can help with hair regrowth. However, Minoxidil will not work to it’s optimal level in the absence of adequate nutritional status.

We always go back to our basics after weight loss surgery of hydration, protein and exercise to maintain health of body and hair.

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