Getting Pregnant after Bariatric Surgery
One of the most frustrating and disheartening parts of living with obesity as woman of childbearing age and wanting a child, is the significantly higher risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS as well as hormonal fluctuations. These conditions, independently or in tandem, can make conceiving difficult, if not impossible. While weight loss in the form of diet and exercise tends to work in the short term, patients often don’t maintain their weight loss long enough to balance their hormone levels.
After bariatric surgery, however, there is a greater chance of being able to conceive as hormone imbalances begin to level out with the associated weight loss and metabolic improvement. Know that if you are suffering from a condition not related to obesity, that causes you to be less fertile, weight loss surgery will likely not make a difference.
Pregnancy Risks Before vs. After Bariatric Surgery
It is worth noting that a pregnancy while obese carries added risk both to mother and child. The risk of preeclampsia as well as gestational diabetes is reduced in post-bariatric surgery pregnancies, even if the mother remains obese, when compared to obese patients that never had bariatric surgery. There is some discussion and disagreement as to whether there is a greater risk of low birth weight in babies of weight loss surgery patients.
Waiting for Optimal Safety and Health
With the potential of conceiving, comes a great deal of excitement and rightly so. However, you must be aware that getting pregnant after surgery requires careful planning both for health and aesthetic reasons.
First, you should not get pregnant in the first 12 to 18 months after surgery. Your rapidly changing body composition as well as restricted diet and caloric/nutritional intake can cause complications during pregnancy. During this time, we strongly suggest the use of contraception or abstinence from sexual activity. At about the 12-month mark, feel free to broach the subject with Dr. Henke. Based on your progression through the aftercare program and whether you have reached your goals and stabilized your weight, Dr. Henke can offer further guidance.
We also encourage you speak to your OB/GYN about weight loss surgery, so the entire medical team is aware of the weight loss procedure. If your OB/GYN does not have extensive experience with pregnant bariatric patients, Dr. Henke will be more than happy to coordinate care with them to ensure the very safest pregnancy, both for you and the unborn child.
Will I Regain Weight During Pregnancy?
Weight gain during pregnancy is something that both bariatric and non-bariatric patients must be aware of. Controlling caloric intake, as hard as that may be, is an important part of pregnancy, regardless of your weight. Employing an OB/GYN that has experience in managing the pregnancies of weight loss surgery patients can be of particular benefit here. However, you should also take advantage of our comprehensive aftercare program to ensure that mother and baby are receiving adequate and appropriate nutrition. Once again, Dr. Henke is very happy to coordinate care with your OB/GYN.
Cosmetic Surgeries for Weight Loss
If you choose to have a cosmetic procedure to eliminate excess skin caused by your significant weight loss, it is important that you further coordinate any planned pregnancies with both Dr. Henke and your cosmetic surgeon. Your surgeons will offer guidance on when cosmetic surgery may be appropriate.
Dr. Henke is always thrilled for patients who can get pregnant after surgery when they never could before. However, in the interest of safety, we put a great deal of emphasis on proper planning. Feel free to discuss your plans with Dr. Henke or any of the clinical staff at your next appointment or by calling our office.