(02) 4323 7000

Can Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cause Hair Loss?

Posted on 10 Jun, 2024
Can Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cause Hair Loss?

Gastric sleeve surgery stands out as one of the most effective medical procedures to achieve significant and lasting weight loss, but it’s also known to cause several side effects, one of which is hair loss. 

Though relatively minor in comparison to the substantial benefits that gastric sleeve surgery can provide an overweight person, the subject of hair loss is still an important concern for some. After all, gastric sleeve surgery is going to transform your body - the concern of then losing hair is valid.

This article contains all you need to know about the impact that gastric sleeve surgery can have on hair loss, the risks involved, and how it can be minimised. 

Hair Loss Is A Side Effect of Gastric Sleeve Surgery 

Yes, hair loss is a potential side effect of gastric sleeve surgery — but not all individuals who undergo the procedure will experience hair loss. 

A 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine reported that 3 out of every 4 women who underwent sleeve gastrectomy (from a sample of 112 individuals) experienced hair loss. In the same study, 80% of those who experienced hair loss had thinning in their hair at the three-to-four-month mark after the procedure. 

However, in another study from 2014, only 41% of individuals experienced hair loss after a sleeve gastrectomy procedure. 

The main takeaway is that the side effects of hair loss after a gastric sleeve operation do not always happen. Further to this point, the effects of hair loss can also be managed.

hair loss after gastric sleeve

How Much Hair Loss Will I Experience?

The exact amount of hair loss will vary from individual to individual. Some may notice more hair (than usual) falling out in the months after surgery, while others may not have any hair loss at all. 

This hair loss is usually seen when brushing or washing hair. Seeing more hair falling out is a valid cause for concern, but it’s unlikely that you will lose all of your hair following gastric sleeve surgery. 

How Long Will The Hair Loss Last? 

Hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery will usually last for about six months. After this period, hair growth and thickness will most likely return to the same level prior to the surgery.

If hair loss continues after six months, especially in large amounts, it may be worth talking to your doctor to find out what is causing the issue. 

What Causes Hair Loss After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Hair loss is a normal side effect of the procedure — there are many potential causes for it, including the stress that your body experiences from surgery and nutritional imbalances in your diet.

Telogen effluvium

Gastric sleeve surgery significantly alters your stomach’s size, which places stress on your body in adapting to the change. This stress may trigger the development of a condition known as telogen effluvium, where a large number of hair follicles are pushed into a resting phase. 

Hair in this phase stops growing and eventually falls out in the following 3 or 4 months.  Telogen effluvium does not cause complete hair loss or even bald spots — it usually results in slightly more hair shedding than normal.

Nutritional imbalance

Hair loss can also be caused by having low amounts of zinc, folic acid (vitamin B9), and ferritin (protein). These minerals are key elements that contribute to hair growth, and having low levels before or after the gastric sleeve procedure can result in an increased likelihood of hair loss. 

Having too much of certain types of supplements can also lead to hair loss. Some studies indicate that having too much vitamin A and E and selenium can lead to further hair loss. Avoid taking more supplements than recommended by your doctor or nutritionist. 

can gastric sleeve cause hair loss

Tips for Minimising Post-Surgery Hair Loss 

The unwanted effect of post-surgery hair loss can be managed with the right strategies. We’ve included some tips below that may help to minimise the amount of hair loss and encourage regular hair growth to resume. 

  • Include protein in every meal

Protein is a major component of hair cell growth. To minimise hair loss and promote healthier hair growth, try to include at least 60-80g worth of protein in your meals each day. 

Foods rich in lean protein include:

  • skinless chicken
  • lean red meat
  • grilled/baked fish
  • cottage cheese
  • greek yogurt
  • nuts and seeds
  • protein bars


  • Vitamins

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to hair loss, so it’s important to stick to the daily vitamins intake as recommended by your doctor. These vitamins will contribute to keeping your hair healthy and full. 

Taking vitamins in the weeks before undergoing the surgery can also help to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to prevent hair loss and thinning. 

  • Consider iron and zinc supplements 

Iron and zinc are key micronutrients that are commonly related to hair growth. Continued hair loss after six months post-surgery may be related to low levels of iron or zinc in the body. 

Aside from including iron-rich food sources in your diet, check it your doctor if you can take iron supplements. Similarly, always check with your dietitian or doctor before starting to take zinc supplements, as excessive amounts of zinc can cause serious side effects. 

how to minimise hair loss after gastric sleeve

  • Stay hydrated

Being sufficiently hydrated is a key part of helping your body heal from the surgery, as well as helping to minimise hair loss. Drink at least 2 litres of fluids every day and avoid unhealthy or sugary options like soft drinks. Sugary or fizzy drinks will not only cause complications for your sensitive stomach but will also take up part of your already tight calorie intake. 

  • Stick to recommended meal plans

When you begin to lose weight after the surgery, it can be tempting to try and speed up the process by lowering your recommended calorie intake. Doing this poses dangerous risks for your health as it can lead to malnutrition and even more hair loss.

Weight loss is a journey, so focus on keeping track of your eating habits and on being healthy to help your body and hair do the same. 

At Central Coast Surgery, we understand the concerns that patients have about gastric sleeve surgery, including hair loss. Our surgeon, Dr Ken Wong, will work closely with you to minimise the risks and side effects of gastric sleeve surgery, and provide the support you need to reach your ideal weight without having to worry about the minor effect of hair loss. If you would like to learn more about getting gastric sleeve surgery in Newcastle for lasting weight loss, contact us today for a consultation!