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October 2013

Gastric bypass linked to hair loss, skin problems

A number of patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery face hair loss and skin problems after surgery, a dermatologist has said.

The symptoms start appearing 2–3 months following surgery, Dermatology Consultant at University Hospital Sharjah Dr Fatima Mustafa said.

The discovery was made after a number of recurrent cases were presented to the hospital’s outpatient clinic, with patient’s complaining of loss of hair and various dermal symptoms including abnormalities in skin and nails.

Dermatology consultants at the hospital discovered a high link between these symptoms and gastric bypass surgery, especially that such an association did not exist in patients following strict dietary regimes for weight loss without surgical intervention.

“Other than gastric bypass patients, those who undergo a severe weight loss regimen also face similar symptoms because they deprive the body of essential nutrients,” she explained, adding that at most times patients are aware of the reason.

The symptoms occur due to deficiencies in Vitamins B12 and D, the depletion in iron and zinc levels, as well as the low levels of some essential proteins associated with gastric bypass. These are all essential elements for skin health and the healthy growth of hair and nails.

“Sudden loss of weight has a negative impact on various body systems and organs, especially on the skin, hair and nails. We recommend visiting a dermatologist right after surgery. The purpose is to receive a prescription for supplemental doses to substitute these nutrients and elements prone to depletion or deficiency in the future,” she added.

“University Hospital Sharjah helps in treatment of patients suffering from these symptoms, using non-conventional treatments based on latest research, such as Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment (PRP),” she said.

“In this treatment, a blood sample is taken from the patient, processed in a special device to separate platelets from other blood components, and then injected into the same patient’s skin. This will activate less performing cells to fulfil their role in skin, hair and nails nutrition. Patients start to experience improvements within two months,” added Dr Fatima.

As for patients suffering from these symptoms, the doctor advised them to take good care of their skin, using proper SPF products when going under direct or indirect sunlight. She also advised people suffering from acne vulgaris to avoid using any moisturisers without prescription, since different skin types require different types of products.