Is Gastric Sleeve The Best Weight Loss Surgery For Pregnancy?

by Jennie
(Chicago)

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Dear LS Free House,

I have been enjoying your site so far, thank you for all the info (it really helps!). But, I was hoping to find a little more information on how bariatric surgery will affect a pregnancy, especially the gastric sleeve surgery.

My hubby and I have been thinking about getting pregnant for a while, but honestly our weight has held us back. We know obese pregnancies can be risky, so we’ve been trying our best to lose weight. I’ve tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and everything else you can think of, but I’ve barely seen an impact on my weight.

I’ve been doing some research and I’m wondering if getting the sleeve might be the way to go here.

It sounds like getting my weight down with the sleeve will be safer for me, and the baby(!), instead of getting pregnant at my current weight (My BMI is 38 and I have high blood pressure), is this true?

Also, getting down to a new weight will obviously not happen overnight. How long until I can get pregnant after getting the sleeve? I’ve wanted a little baby all my life so I’m really anxious to get this process started if it’s going to happen!

God bless and a very happy new year to all you!

Jennie

Oh! And ps: I’m not sold on the gastric sleeve. It seems like from the research I’ve done it’s the “best” surgery, but if there is a better one for pregnancy I’m all ears!!

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Surgeon Response to "Is Gastric Sleeve The Best Weight Loss Surgery For Pregnancy?"

by: John Rabkin, M.D., Pacific Laparoscopy

Jennie,

You are absolutely correct in your conclusion that you’ll have a healthier baby (as well as a healthier child and likely adult) if you lose your excess weight prior to your pregnancy. Multiple medical studies have conclusively demonstrated that morbid obesity not only complicates getting pregnant in the first place, but also complicates the pregnancy itself, increasing the chances of having an ultimately unsuccessful pregnancy and, most importantly, adversely impacts the LONGTERM health of the child.

There have not been any studies that clearly support one of the weight loss surgical procedures (WLS) over another: all have been shown to beneficially impact pregnancy and the health of the child. The Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) that you have been looking into having is certainly a good WLS option for you to consider. One very interesting WLS pregnancy study from Canada in patients who had the Duodenal Switch (DS) WLS compared the IQ and general health of siblings born to the same mothers before and after their mother had the DS. The children born AFTER their mothers had the DS uniformly were in better health than their siblings who were in utero and born while their mothers were still morbidly obese.

In general, pregnancy should be deferred until the initial period of rapid weight loss has ended and your weight has stabilized. Be careful: many previously infertile women RAPIDLY become fertile very soon after their WLS and unexpectedly become pregnant after years of not conceiving despite not using any methods of birth control. Depending on which WLS procedure you choose to undergo, weight loss stabilization may be as early as six months after the procedure, but more commonly is at least 12 to 18 months. Pregnant women after WLS should be more carefully monitored and in many cases treated as ‘high risk pregnancies’ due to the potential for vitamin and mineral deficiencies that may occur after WLS which could be unhealthy for the developing fetus. Good prenatal care is extremely important to ensure a healthy baby, especially after WLS.

The sooner that you are able to have your WLS procedure and “get this process started,” the sooner you and your husband will be welcoming your new family member(s?) into your lives!

John Rabkin, M.D.
Pacific Laparoscopy

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DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

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