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Surprisingly, hair loss is one of the reasons female pre-operative patients sit on the fence before deciding to have gastric bypass surgery. Obese people, especially obese women, often have lush gorgeous hair. Of course they do – it's well fed and nourished! How many of us have been described as the woman with "beautiful hair and a pretty face"? What person in their right mind would give up one of their beautiful features?
Hair loss usually occurs in the fourth of fifth month following weight loss surgery. During the phase of rapid weight loss, caloric intake is marginal. This puts the body in a state of panic called starvation. Think about the pictures of prisoners of war. Most victims of this atrocity are without hair because they are literally starving to death. A healthy body normally sheds ten percent of hair follicles at any given time. When a body is starving roughly thirty to forty percent of hair follicles are sacrificed as the body channels nutrition to more vital areas. During this phase hair loss is dramatic, often patients find clumps of hair on the shower floor. Remaining hair becomes drab and lifeless.
I knew hair loss was a potential result of weight loss surgery, but because I'm a "cup-half-full" person, I didn't believe that hair loss would happen to me! That just happens to other people, I told myself! Imagine my surprise when my blonde locks were littering the bathroom floor like hair saloon. I shed some tears over that.
The hair loss is a transient effect of your gastric bypass surgery and will be resolved when nutrition and weight stabilize. When my hair began falling out, my husband, who has been a proponent of vitamin supplements all his life, found a vitamin specifically formulated for building strong healthy hair. The vitamin I take for healthy hair and nails is Silica Complex by Puritan's PrideÒ. It contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, betaine and horsetail extract. Consumption of this supplement almost immediately retarded my hair loss and renewed my dull lifeless hair. I will continue taking this supplement throughout my life. Three years after surgery my hair is long, full and lustrous – one would never know I had suffered significant hair loss. In hindsight, I would certainly begin taking this supplement prior to my surgery. In the very least I would begin taking it soon after surgery before the signs of hair loss were apparent.
As I become acquainted with many of our LivingAfterWLS.com community members I'm finding that old snacking habits have crept back in to our lives. In my third year post-op I returned to the miserable habit of snacking and snacking on all the wrong foods. Crackers, popcorn, toast, cereal, pretzels, sugar-free candy, granola bars. The unpleasant result of this is I regained some weight, several dumping episodes, vomiting and bouts of fatigue.
According to my bariatric center "Snacking, nibbling or grazing on foods, usually high-calorie and high-fat foods, can add hundreds of calories a day to your intake, defeating the restrictive effect of your operation. Snacking will slow down your weight loss and can lead to regain of weight. "
Almost universally the snacks WLS patients admit to eating are high carbohydrate, nutritionally void processed foods. In order to maintain weight loss after gastric bypass successful patients avoid these poor snack choices:
What you will notice about the poor snack choices is that most are nutritionally void foods – they do nothing to feed your body the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to function well. In addition when grazed upon many of these foods can be consumed in large quantities by gastric bypass patients. It's called the "soft foods phenomena". When WLS patients eat soft foods (think crackers) which mix with stomach fluids a slurry results. This mixture passes through the pouch into the bypassed intestine allowing for steady intake without satiation. In addition, these foods may cause dumping or vomiting.
You may be surprised to see trail mix and granola on the foods to avoid list as they are well known "health foods." It's true trail mix and granola are nutritionally dense but most bariatric patients report a low tolerance for nuts, seeds and raisins. In addition many of these foods contain hidden sugars.