Hair Restoration Blog

The Links Between Weight Loss and Hair Loss
April 10 2018

The Links Between Weight Loss and Hair Loss

For many people, weight loss is not only an important way to look and feel better, but it also can be a contributor to better health and a longer life. Many people address their weight concerns with diets, cleanses, or even with weight loss surgery.

Unfortunately, weight loss success is very often linked to sudden hair loss. This experience can be extremely discouraging: at a time when a person should be feeling better, inspired by the changes in their body, instead they are saddened and frustrated by sometimes dramatic hair loss. Hair loss can lower a person’s self-esteem, just at a time when they hoped to look and feel better.

There are several reasons why weight loss, particularly sudden weight loss, can be quickly followed by hair loss. Here are the major causative factors:

  • Stress. Even positive lifestyle changes can be stressful. If weight loss is due to a crash diet or cleanse, and even more so from a weight loss surgery, the body experiences stress that can contribute to hair loss.
  • Hormones. Hormone balance is closely linked to hair growth and health. DHT, a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, contributes to hair loss. Stress, sudden lifestyle changes, and sudden dietary changes can all affect the body's hormone levels and hormone production, resulting in decreased estrogen and increased androgen levels, causing hair loss.
  • Blood sugar changes. Dietary changes cause changes in blood glucose levels. If blood sugar levels aren't balanced with protein and other nutrients, high blood sugar levels can inflame the scalp, reduce nutrients to the hair, and also trigger hormone changes. Many cleanse diets reduce the intake of fat and proteins, replacing them with fruits and juices that have high levels of sugars, which can impact hair loss.
  • Fewer nutrients in the diet. When calories are restricted, the body can compensate by trying to protect itself. It diverts nutrients away from hair production (particularly on the head) and toward more vital systems like organs, muscles, and bones. Hair follicles are suddenly deprived of nutrients, and this results in hair loss.

Frequently, sudden weight loss is accompanied by one or more of these other changes, which causes changes in the hair growth cycle. Normally, hair is in a growth phase for two to six years, after which the hair naturally falls out. The hair follicle then enters a resting phase for one to four months, and then begins to grow hair again. The hair follicle growth and renewal cycles are happening all the time, all over the head. Normally, about 10% of your hair is in a resting phase at any given time.

However, if weight loss triggers hormone or nutrition changes, stress or increased blood sugar levels, the hair can enter a state called telogen effluvium. This means that more and more hair follicles begin the resting phase all at once, disrupting the normal hair growth cycle. Instead of just 10% of the hair follicles being at rest and not making hair, hair can visibly thin and even produce bald patches.

For healthy people, telogen effluvium is a temporary condition. In the case of a crash diet or cleanse, once normal nutrition is restored, the hair will begin to regrow. In the case of a weight loss surgery, the physical stress of the surgery itself and the accompanying lifestyle changes passes, and, assuming that the person maintains a healthy diet, the hair will begin to regrow naturally.

However, it can take six months or longer for new hair to be visible on the scalp, and that time can be awkward and uncomfortable. People eager to show off their weight loss success want to look and feel their best, and hair is an integral part of looking and feeling happy and healthy. At New Look Institute, we have a range of solutions designed to give you full, healthy, glowing hair without damaging fragile new growth. Contact us to find out about our solutions, so that your hair can look its best.