Hair loss/thinning is common after bariatric surgery; however, little is known about the associated correlates of hair loss in this population. This study examined the frequency of hair loss and associated dissatisfaction, distress, and psychosocial functioning following bariatric surgery.
Participants were 57 adults seeking adjunctive treatment for eating and/or weight concerns following bariatric surgery. Participants completed established measures assessing loss-of-control (LOC) eating, eating-disorder psychopathology, and depressive symptoms. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing hair loss/thinning, dissatisfaction, and distress using likert-type scales.
Nearly three-quarters (n=42; 73.7%) reported experiencing hair loss since bariatric surgery, with 40.4% (n=23) reporting moderate to marked hair loss. Of those with hair loss, almost all (n=39; 92.9%) reported dissatisfaction and distress with hair loss. Hair loss itself was not associated significantly with body mass index (BMI) or weight change since surgery, eating-disorder psychopathology, or depressive symptoms. However, greater dissatisfaction and distress regarding hair loss were associated significantly with greater eating-disorder psychopathology, but not with weight variables or depressive symptoms. Participants with regular LOC eating reported greater hair loss dissatisfaction and distress than participants without regular LOC eating.
Hair loss and associated dissatisfaction and distress were common after bariatric surgery but were not associated with BMI or weight change. While the experience of hair loss was not associated significantly with eating-disorder psychopathology, the extent of dissatisfaction and distress regarding hair loss was associated with eating-disorder psychopathology. Future research should attempt to elucidate the relationship between hair loss distress and eating-disorder psychopathology after bariatric surgery.