How Soon After Bariatric Surgery Can I Become Pregnant?

With more than 50,000 women of childbearing age undergoing weight loss surgery every year, questions about how long to wait after surgery before becoming pregnant are common.

If you've undergone or are considering weight loss surgery and are also thinking of starting a family, you likely want to know how soon after surgery you can become pregnant without jeopardizing your weight loss of the health of yourself and your baby.

While there isn't yet enough data to zero in on an ideal time for pregnancy after surgery, a recent review of the available information provides some useful facts and suggests that you can have a successful pregnancy within 1 or 2 years of undergoing weight loss surgery.

While not enough is known to draw definite conclusions about the timing of pregnancy after weight loss surgery, there have been several studies on the topic:

  • One study looked at 18 women with a total of 21 successful pregnancies after gastric bypass surgery. 10 of the women conceived within one year of surgery, and their pregnancies showed no differences in cesarean delivery rates, delivery complications, low birth weight, or congenital abnormalities when compared with those who conceived later . Another study, also comparing pregnancies within one year of gastric bypass with later pregnancies, confirmed these findings by showing no differences in outcomes .

  • A study examining pregnancies that took place within 2 years after gastric bypass surgery found a premature birth rate of 18%. Although this rate is high, the study didn't include a comparison group to provide reference.
     
  • A look at 20 laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) patients who conceived within one year of surgery found that early post-surgery pregnancies resulted in lower maternal weight gain . No differences were observed in birth weight, pregnancy complications, or rate of premature birth.
     
  • Among a group of pregnancies that occurred within 2 years after LAGB surgery, miscarriage rates were 29%.
     
  • Pregnancies that occurred within 18 months of biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) surgery had a higher rate of miscarriage than pregnancies that took place more than 18 months after surgery (31% compared to 18%).
     
  • A look at 26 weight loss surgery patients found that 15.4% conceived within one year of surgery, 46.1% between 13 months and 2 years, and 10% after more than 2 years. Earlier pregnancies were more likely to result in preterm deliveries .

The data collected to date shows that it is possible to become pregnant less than one year after undergoing bariatric surgery. However, it appears as though your chances of a successful pregnancy will be best one to two years after surgery. It is not good for pregnancy to coincide with the most rapid weight loss period, which is the first year post-surgery.

References:
1. Maggard MA et al. Pregnancy and fertility following bariatric surgery: a systematic review. JAMA. 2008 Nov 19;300(19):2286-96.
2. Rand CS, Macgregor AM. Medical care and pregnancy outcome after gastric bypass surgery for obesity. South Med J. 1989;82(10):1319-1320.
3. Dao T, Kuhn J, Ehmer D, Fisher T, McCarty T. Pregnancy outcomes after gastric-bypass surgery. Am J Surg. 2006;192(6):762-766.
4. Dixon JB, Dixon ME, O’Brien PE. Birth outcomes in obese women after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(5 Pt 1):965-972.
5. Patel JA, Patel NA, Thomas RL, Nelms JK, Colella JJ. Pregnancy outcomes after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Surg Obes Rel at Di s. 2008; 4(1):39-45.

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