Hair Loss After Surgery – A Bald Dude’s Perspective

Let’s take a moment to talk about hair loss after bariatric surgery…


Yea, I know. Who am I to talk, right?

I was balding before surgery. Not much, but that spot at back of the head that I could only see if the barber held up the hand mirror to show me how good of a job he did with the back. Ok, that’s only partly true, because by the time I had surgery I was pretty much just buzz-cutting my own hair. Then about 10 months or so after surgery I took the plunge and just started shaving it all off. But you get the idea, right?

This is a topic that comes up over and over and over again, be it in the various discussion groups and forums, support groups, or whatever.

Typically, my answer is about how “you” are often the only one to really notice anything. That the shock of the surgery, the anesthesia are often as responsible (if not more so) than the rapid weight loss. And that so many people that I know and have talked to relate how that once they get past the losing stage (of hair, not weight), that their hair comes back. And given that they are now eating so much better than before, and are getting to be so much healthier, their hair reflects that – typically coming back better and healthier than it was before.

It came up again tonight in a group here in FB and it got me reflecting on some things Reeger Cortell and I discussed just yesterday when I was interviewed for her latest edition of the Weight Loss Surgery Podcast. (Like how I just sort of slipped that in there? heh.) When working on things regarding weight bias and the disease of obesity, I often use analogies that have to do with cancer, and in the interview yesterday we talked a bit about how when Angelina Jolie had her surgery as a preemptive strike against breast cancer, hardly anyone batted an eye, yet someone that turns to bariatric surgery is often stigmatized.

Well when it comes to bariatric surgery and weight loss, maybe there’s another cancer related analogy that bears taking a few moments to think about.

Often, those battling cancer, when they go the route of chemotherapy and the like, they end up losing their hair. And many of them preemptively shave their heads… and to some degree this becomes a sort of act of defiance, or even a celebration, with friends and family often sharing the moment with them and shaving their heads as well.

Maybe we, as bariatric patients, need to take another page from that book?

No, I’m not suggesting early post-ops start shaving their heads. I’m talking more about attitude. Instead of looking at the hair loss with a sense of dread and foreboding, look at it as a just another step in the journey towards a healthier tomorrow.  A phrase I find myself often using in various situations is “this is just a speed bump, not a road block”. And this journey is so filled with speed bumps, that if we let them, will become road blocks that don’t simply slow us down, but rather may stop us in our tracks. *If* we let them.

yes... there was a time when I had hair, and lots of it.

yes… there was a time when I had hair, and lots of it.

I’m not saying it will be easy. It rarely is. And maybe as a guy, we’re used to the idea of losing our hair… and having already started going bald years earlier… maybe it was easier for me to deal with. But like the tag-line from my radio show, The Wake Up Call, says: “Change your mind, change your health.” (like how I worked that in here too?!) It’s more than just a tag line, it’s something myself and my co-hosts truly believe. Changes in your health can, do, and often only happen when you change your mind set. If you’re facing down the decision to have bariatric surgery to help you get your weight under control, to become healthier, you likely have already made some MAJOR changes in your mind set. Deciding to not fret about a temporary loss of some hair? Hopefully this can become one of the easiest changes you make during this whole thing.

Isn’t it worth a shot?

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