Weight loss leads to improved health of nearly every body organ. Weight loss is known to decrease blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes, lower cholesterol, improve sleep apnea and lower the risk of several weight related cancers. Additionally, weight loss is the only known treatment for fatty liver disease, a serious condition that can cause liver cancer and liver failure.
During weight loss, some body processes that are non-essential are reduced. For example, weight loss can slow nail growth, lead to dry skin, and in some cases can effect hair growth. These parts of the body receive a lower priority since they are less likely to affect survival. They are essentially a “luxury.” Meal skipping is a common reason why people lose hair, so ensuring adequate protein during weight loss is important.
While distressing, some people lose hair during weight loss despite good nutrition. The hair follicles can go into a hibernation phase called “telogen effluvium.” During this phase of the hair cycle, hair can fall out, leading to visible clumps of hair in the shower drain and hair brush. This is quite different from patches of hair loss, alopecia areata, which may be caused by an autoimmune condition.
Once telogen effluvium begins, hair continues to fall out for several months, then stabilizes for several months. Hair may return to a growth phase several months later. Since hair grows about 1″ per month, it can take over a year to return to normal hair length and thickness.
The best way to prevent hair loss related to weight loss is to ensure generous amounts of protein at least every 4 hrs. To ensure adequate vitamin intake, a multivitamin may be helpful, though data is not convincing.
Rest assured, hair loss related to weight loss is temporary, as no one develops baldness related to weight loss.