Weight Loss and Hair Loss – Find Out if They are Related
Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons including genetics and medical conditions. There are also some cases where weight loss can lead to hair loss as one of its side effects. The body is sensitive to stress and changes in the hormones which can happen as result of weight loss surgery, a rapid amount of weight loss and even a restrictive diet. Let’s take a look at why some people experience a loss of hair on the scalp after they lose weight as well as ways to address the issue.
Hair Loss after Weight Loss – A Closer Look at the Reasons it Occurs
The loss of hair on the scalp during weight loss is commonly caused by deficiencies in essential nutrients. For example, restrictive diets and sudden amounts of weight loss have been linked to acute Telogen Effluvium (TE) which is when stress forces a large amount of hair roots to move into resting stage prematurely. Some of the causes of this condition include thyroid issues, childbirth, major levels of psychological stress and medications such as antidepressants. The hair on the scalp can return once the cause of the shedding of the hair (the event producing the stress) is no longer active or present in the life of the person. Nutrition deficiencies and weight loss have also been linked to patients suffering from alopecia.
How Diets Can Lead to Hair Loss
There have been studies about the connection between hair loss and crash dieting that go back to the 1970s. In general, the hair on the scalp requires an adequate amount of nutrients and calories to grow properly. If the body does not receive the proper number of calories and nutrients, a person can experience side effects such as hair loss.
An example includes a 2015 study of 180 women who were experiencing diffuse hair loss. The study found that the most common cause of the hair loss on the scalp were psychological stress and iron deficiency. Eight of the cases showed that crash diets were the reason for the hair loss in the women taking part in the study.
In addition, a poorly planned diet can result in deficiencies in the recommended daily amount of calories along with deficiencies in the amount of protein that helps hair growth. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are an essential part of the hair growth process. Amino acids are important because they are needed for the production of keratin (which is the main structural protein found in hair). If the body of a person does not get enough protein, this is known as protein malnutrition, and it can result in a loss of hair. This is why a person that is following a crash diet and/or a low-calorie diet that does not contain enough protein can experience hair loss.
If the amount of protein needed by the body is not being provided, the body will begin to prioritize functions of the body that are dependent on protein such as tissue repair, production of hormones and proper digestion. Since the growth of hair is not considered by the body to be a task that keeps a person alive, a patient might begin to experience hair loss.
Weight Loss Surgery and How it Can Result in Hair Loss
In general, weight loss surgery has been associated with a rapid amount of weight loss in patients. It has also been known to cause a deficiency in minerals, protein and vitamins that help with hair growth. If the amount of protein, minerals and vitamins are found to be lacking, a person can experience hair loss.
A 2020 study of 112 women, who had sleeve gastrectomy surgery, showed that the patients had experienced some level of hair loss after their procedure. In 79% of the patients who said they had experienced hair loss after the surgery, they said the loss of hair on the scalp began around three or four months after the surgery. They also said that the hair loss lasted for an average length of 5.5 months.
How to Avoid Hair Loss after Weight Loss
The first step in avoiding hair loss, while still being able to enjoy weight loss, is to follow a healthy and well-balanced diet. Planning ahead and making sure diet contains enough nutrients and proteins to keep the body healthy is a key element in preventing hair loss form occurring during a diet.
In addition, patients that are not sure if their diet will be able to prevent side effects like a loss of hair on the scalp should consult with their doctor before starting their weight loss plan. The doctor will be able to review the planned diet with the person in order to make sure it is not a crash diet or any kind of plan that will have a negative impact on their overall health and appearance.