Why is my hair falling out and my fingernails breaking?

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Patients who undergo weight loss surgery sometimes complain of problems with their hair and fingernails during the first year or so after the operation. They are a few possible explanations related to the stress state after the operation as well as possible nutritional deficiencies.

Immediately after a gastric bypass, you may lose as much as a pound or two of weight each day. When the body is losing weight this quickly, it sometimes goes into a stress state in order to conserve resources. The result of this is that hair and fingernail growth might not be the same as it was before the operation. Typically this is stress-state after the operation is temporary and once your weight once again stabilizes then your hair and nail growth will return to its pre-surgery level.

One nutritional deficiency that can cause problems with fingernails is iron deficiency. Signs of iron deficiency include brittle nails, constipation, depression, headaches, fatigue and mouth lesions. Some patients can develop severe anemia, even with supplements and can be treated with parenteral iron therapy. This may occur more often in menstruating women. It is very important that you take your vitamins after you have your operation and continue to drink protein supplements between meals.

Another possibility to explain problems with fingernails and hair growth is Biotin deficiency. Biotin deficiency may cause problems with hair and nails and therefore cause them to become brittle and weak. There are no known common side effects for biotin supplementation. An adequate amount should be somewhere between 30 and 100 micrograms. To improve hair and nails, an effective dosage would be 1000 to 3000 micrograms per day. Any concerns should be discussed with both your doctor and dietitian so that you receive appropriate recommendations.

Glossary of Associated Medical Causes and Conditions