VideoScopic Institute of Atlanta PC - Dr. Champion Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Pregnancy after Weight Loss Surgery

Pregnancy after Weight Loss Surgery

Infertility is a common problem in morbidly obese patients due to the fat cells destroying the female hormone, estrogen. Infertility can also be an indication for weight loss surgery in couples who wish to have children. However, patients who have had a gastric bypass for weight loss should not become pregnant for at least 18 months after surgery due to the risk of damage to the unborn baby from inadequate nutrition. The loop of intestine used to bypass the distal stomach (ROUX limb) does not absorb nutrients the first 12-14 months. By 18 months the bowel thickens and undergoes changes which allow it to begin re-absorbing nutrients which can be vital to a growing fetus.

While morbidly obese women have an increased risk of infertility, miscarriages and birth defects, this risk reverts to normal with significant weight loss. A large study from California followed over 150 women who became pregnant after gastric bypass and there was no increased incidence of problems as long as they waited 18 months after surgery.

Vitamins and especially FOLATE are critical to the formation of nerve tissue such as the brain in a fetus, therefore it is important any women considering pregnancy should be diligent about taking their vitamins and have their folate, iron and B-12 level checked before they become pregnant.

All post-op female patients should utilize birth control for the 18 month period even if they have experienced infertility and been told “you can’t have children”. Several of our patients have become pregnant prior to the 18 month safe period and our policy is to inform them they are at extremely high risk of having a child with significant birth defects and we urge them to consider a therapeutic abortion out of medical necessity.

Pregnancy is possible at an earlier time if patients undergo a VBG or Lap-band, but adequate vitamin levels and supplements are equally important. The pregnancy will interrupt the weight loss process and therefore it is best to wait at least one year after these two procedures.

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