Bariatric surgeries are becoming very common in the United States.
Bariatric surgery is a term used to describe various procedures that can be done to treat obesity.
Women of childbearing age who have bariatric surgery often will find that their fertility or their ability to get pregnant improves dramatically after their surgery. Weight loss, especially rapid weight loss, can lead to unexpected ovulation, which means birth control is very important in the first 18 months following your surgery.
We generally recommend that pregnancy be postponed at least 18 months after your surgery so that you can reach the ideal weight, or at least close to your target weight before you plan a pregnancy.
There are several types of bariatric surgeries that are performed in the United States.
It’s important to know whether you’ve had a malabsorptive procedure, commonly referred to as the Roux-en-Y, or whether you’ve had a more restrictive procedure, which make the stomach smaller without bypassing any of the intestine.
Procedures in the United States for this include gastric banding, or the gastric sleeve.
Both have impacts on the pregnancy, but the differences are fairly dramatic when it comes to nutrition. Any of the procedures, like the Roux-en-Y where intestine is bypassed, carries significant increased risk for anemia and other nutritional deficiencies. It’s very important that you’re working with your nutritionist during your pregnancy.
The restrictive procedures, like the sleeves and the banding, pose issues mainly for getting enough calories during the pregnancy.
This is the primary reason why we recommend that you postpone your pregnancy at least 18 months after your surgery.
That said, pregnancies after bariatric surgery can be very uneventful.
The major risks involve diabetes, especially if you have a history of diabetes, or if your diabetes persists even after your surgery.
Also some women remain overweight or obese even if they intended to reach their goal weight before their pregnancy. That can increase the risk of the pregnancy.
Having a bariatric surgery procedure should not discourage you from getting pregnant. In fact, the pregnancy may, in fact, be lower risk than when you were more overweight.