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Piecing Together the Hair Loss Puzzle

Hair can reveal a lot about one’s identity and personality, which is why you (and most other people) spend countless hours perfecting your style. This aspect of personal branding can leave you feeling empowered and confident when having a ‘good hair day’, or reserved and insecure when your tresses don’t quite hit the mark. Whilst it is common for the texture, colour and fullness of your hair to change over time, increasing hair loss is a standout complication following bariatric surgery; one that can leave you feeling less than fabulous. A good strategy when solving any puzzle is to first lay out all of the smaller pieces and look for clues that guide you toward assembling a bigger picture. In this instance, the best clue to your hair loss puzzle lies in the changes to your nutrition.

Laying Out the Pieces of Your Puzzle

From time to time, your hair likes to take a siesta and cycles between active growing phases (known as anagen) and resting phases (telogen). Typically, around 90% to 95% of your hair follicles are in a growth phase at any given time, leaving the remaining 5% to 10% in the resting phase. This hair growth cycle equates to shedding of around 100 to 150 hair strands daily, which is considered a normal amount.1

Hair Growth Cycle

Excessive hair shedding, known as telogen effluvium, occurs when hair in the growth phase stops growing ahead of schedule and enters a forced hiatus in the resting phase. Two to three months later is when you are most likely to notice excessive hair loss,2 although it remains unclear why dormant hair growth causes increased shedding.

Despite this mystery, nutrient deficiencies and stress following bariatric surgery are associated with hair loss, influencing the lifespan of your hair follicles and triggering increased shedding.

Hair loss on brush

Putting it Together Piece by Piece

Reduced food intake, rapid weight loss and changes to your digestion, including the ability to absorb nutrients following surgery, puts many individuals at risk of developing multiple nutrient deficiencies. As vitamins and minerals are essential for normal cell growth and function, it is important to ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of key nutrients required for optimal hair health. Nutrients that reduce the risk of hair loss and assist hair growth in the event of excessive shedding include:

  • Iron: required for the synthesis of new hair follicles;3
  • Zinc: plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair;4
  • Biotin: involved in keratin production (a type of protein within the body that makes up your hair, skin and nails);5
  • B group vitamins: vitamins B2, B12 and folate (B9) are involved in the synthesis of new hair cells;6 and
  • Protein: deficiency is associated with increased dry and brittle hair.7

Puzzled About How to Complete Your Jigsaw?

We all have our own methods for piecing together a solution to the big hair loss picture, but here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Give your hair the boost it needs by choosing a that ticks all of the nutritional boxes required for healthy hair. Prioritise daily use, as nutritional consistency is key to shifting your hair cycle back into its growth phase.
  • Increase your protein intake to support growth and prevent hair from becoming dry and brittle. A good quality protein supplement, such as BARINUTRICS™ PROTEIN powder, is an easy and convenient way of boosting your protein and can be added to smoothies, juices or even your morning porridge. Click here for recipe ideas that can help you increase your daily protein.
  • Stress less (I know what you are thinking… easier said than done!). Stress on the body can come in many forms including physical recovery after surgery, rapid weight loss, or simply the stress associated with the highs and lows of life. Additionally, worrying about hair loss can have an additive effect on stress and lead to anxiety, which may only worsen the problem. Tend to your life’s daily stresses by upping stress-relieving activities. Try your hand at meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or spend more time outside in nature.
  • Remind yourself that hair repair takes time. After removing the trigger, hair shedding can take three to six months to cease, after which regrowth occurs and your hair returns.8 Remember good things come to those who wait.

The Small Details Help You See the Bigger Picture

Now that the pieces of your hair loss puzzle have come together, it is time to reflect on the bigger picture and action a plan of change. A daily dose of multivitamins and minerals, protein and a chill pill (find your Zen) may be just the thing needed to shift your hair back into the growth phase and reclaim your luscious locks.

References:

  1. Malkud S. Telogen effluvium: a review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Sep;9(9):WE01-3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15219.6492.
  2. Malkud S. Telogen effluvium: a review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Sep;9(9):WE01-3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15219.6492.
  3. Halawi A, Abiad F, Abbas O. Bariatric surgery and its effects on the skin and skin diseases. Obes Surg. 2013 Mar;23(3):408-13. doi: 10.1007/s11695-012-0859-x.
  4. Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar;9(1):51-70. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.
  5. Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disord. 2017 Aug;3(3):166-169. doi: 10.1159/000462981.
  6. Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The role of vitamins and minerals in hair loss: a review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Mar;9(1):51-70. doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6.
  7. Halawi A, Abiad F, Abbas O. Bariatric surgery and its effects on the skin and skin diseases. Obes Surg. 2013 Mar;23(3):408-13. doi: 10.1007/s11695-012-0859-x.
  8. Malkud S. Telogen effluvium: a review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Sep;9(9):WE01-3. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2015/15219.6492.