Bariatric Support Group Date: June 2, 2106 / Facilitator: Chris Bovos, RN, CBN /

Chris reviewed how hair grows, why you go through a period of hair thinning about 3 – 4 months after surgery, and what things you can do if it doesn’t start growing back after that happens.

All hair goes through 3 phases of growth, as shown in the slides (available online).  90% of your hair is in the growth phase for anywhere from a few months to years, like the hair on your head.  When your body goes through a major stressor, such as major surgery, weight loss, severe infection, childbirth, etc., the nutrition you are taking in is used to heal your body and therefore your hair doesn’t get any nutrition.  That pushes it into a state call telogen effluvium, which is excessive shedding, and your hair moves from the growth phase to the telogen stage. This stage lasts about 3 -4 months, and then the hair falls out.  This stage lasts about 100 – 120 days, and then regrowth begins as long as the hair follicles have not been damaged.

Hair thinning that goes beyond 6 months to a year after surgery is usually due to some nutritional deficiency.  It is important to get enough protein, iron, zinc in your diet in order to regrow your hair.  One of the biggest causes of chronic hair thinning beyond the 6 months is a deficiency in iron.  This is measured by have a “ferritin” level drawn.  This is a measure of your iron stores.  Anything below 40 micrograms means your iron stores may be low, and you either need to take more iron, or you may require an iron infusion if you don’t absorb enough iron.

Protein is another nutrient needed to regrow hair.  You need to eating 60 – 75 gms of protein a day in order to regrow your hair and keep your muscles strong.  The protein you eat needs to be high quality protein.    Zinc is another element that has been tied to hair thinning, but too much zinc can be toxic.  You do not want more than 40 mg of zinc a day, and if you are taking Journey Vitamins, they provide 15 mg in each capsule.

Some products that patients have reported helping are Biotin, Omega-3 fatty acids, the product “Hair, Skin & Nails,”  hair care products from Nioxin, Keranique, and supplements with Saw Palmetto in them.  Hair Essentials is on the internet with good reviews, but that is unverified.  The most important thing to do is to eat enough protein, take your vitamins as prescribed, and be patient. Hair thinning is temporary!