January 17, 2013
Weight Loss: Will It Make My Hair Fall Out?

I have often heard, “Doc! I’m doing well with my weight loss and I’m getting in great shape, but when I wash my hair the shower drain is full of hair, like after I delivered my baby. What’s going on?”

Rest assured, temporary hair loss can be triggered by many events:
1. Postpartum after a healthy pregnancy
2. After major surgery or major illness
3. Starting certain medications
4. Weight loss!

Normally your healthy scalp is composed of 85-95% actively growing hair follicles (“anagen phase”) and 5-15% resting or dormant hair follicles (“telogen phase”). For each hair follicle the resting hair stage lasts for about three months and the growing hair phase about three years. But with any one of the above triggers, a much larger number of hair follicles will go into the resting phase all at the same time. Is it an energy-conserving response by your body? Perhaps… but again bear in mind that the hair “loss” is an accentuated version of a process that’s normally happening all the time. Your hair will grow back! In fact, most of the hair loss occurs when the resting (telogen) hair is ending its cycle and is literally being pushed out of the hair follicle by the new growing (anagen) hair. So… the sudden hair loss is paradoxically a sign that your hair regrowth is now underway. The problem there is that since it grows at a slow rate of about 1 cm per month, your “new” hair won’t be apparent to you until 2 or 3 months later! So keep your weight loss healthy with nutritious eating, plenty of sleep and the right types of exercise. And… be patient!

(P.S.  See your doctor if your scalp is not looking much better in 6 months. And yes, there are many other types of hair loss. Patchy hair loss is not what we’re talking about. See your MD for that, and likewise for post-chemotherapy hair loss, male pattern baldness and unexplained hair loss.)


Written by Dr. Strater

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