pregnancy and weight loss surgeryA recent study from the UK evaluated the various aspects of weight loss surgery and the multidisciplinary management of patients prior to, during, and after pregnancy. In so doing, they found that women who have weight loss surgery and also plan on having a child should wait a year after the procedure before attempting conception.

The study is particularly timely and important since both obesity and bariatric surgery are on the rise in women in the reproductive age range. Plus, obesity already poses increased risks for health complications during a pregnancy, regardless of factoring in the implications of weight loss surgery.

It’s important to note that the study is not saying bariatric surgery is unsafe for women ever wanting to become pregnant. In fact, the researchers pointed out that pregnancy is safer for women who have had bariatric surgery, as compared to women who remain morbidly obese. A previous study showed pregnancies are safe for 79.2 percent of patients following weight loss surgery.

“An increasing number of women of child-bearing age are undergoing bariatric surgery procedures and need information and guidance regarding reproductive issues. In light of current evidence available, pregnancy after bariatric surgery is safer, with fewer complications, than pregnancy in morbidly obese women. Multidisciplinary input care is the key to a healthy pregnancy for women who have undergone bariatric surgery,” said Rahat Khan, the review’s co-author and a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust. “However, this group of women should still be considered high risk by both obstetricians and surgeons.”

The reasons given for being cautious is that there could be surgical complications during pregnancy that also result after bariatric surgery. For instance, a previous study found a chance for band movement.

To ensure a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby, consult with your physician about all the surrounding circumstances, including nutrition, contraception, weight gain, and vitamin supplementation before attempting to get pregnant. And as the researchers suggest, women should work with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.

“Optimal education should be encouraged in these individuals so that they can make well informed decisions about planning pregnancy after their surgery,” said Jason Waugh, Editor-in Chief of The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, where the findings of the review were featured.