Could Weight Loss Surgery Bring Down Your Risk of Pregnancy Complications if You're Obese?

According to new research, weight loss surgery could help you have a healthier pregnancy.

Obese Pregnancy Complications Jiri Hera/Shutterstock
Weight loss surgery isn't without risks, but it can help reduce some of the risks you may have when you're expecting: Researchers have identified that women who are overweight may go on to lead healthier pregnancies after they've had weight loss surgery.

It's not surprising: There's plenty of evidence to support the idea that overweight or obese women are more likely to face complications during pregnancy and delivery—they have greater C-section rates and may give birth to abnormally large babies. Experts have recommended that women reach healthy weights before getting pregnant—and it appears that weight loss surgery is a suitable way to accomplish this (provided the woman in question is a good candidate for the surgery, of course).

These findings were presented at the 2016 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons. Researchers involved studied maternal and fetal outcomes of women who had undergone bariatric surgery, then weighed those findings against data from obese women who had not been operated upon. The researchers compiled findings from other studies and found a far lower rate of C-section births among those who did have the surgery as opposed to this who did not. C-sections can cause complications for mothers and lead to health issues in babies—so these findings are very significant. 

“We know that the prevalence of obesity in women is increasing, so we wanted to know more about the impact of bariatric surgery on pregnancy, the mother, and the baby,” said study co-author Samantha Drew, a medical student at the Philadelphia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Georgia. People are increasingly choosing bariatric operations as a way to lose a large amount of excess weight, with the estimated number of these procedures performed annually rising from 158,000 to 196,000 in four years (2011-2015).

“These findings are important because we were able to confirm that obese women who undergo bariatric operations prior to conceiving do not have worse outcomes compared with obese women who don’t have these procedures,” senior study author Aliu Sanni, MD, FACS said, according to a release from the American College of Surgeons. “We want to make sure that bariatric surgery performed before pregnancy will have benefits for these women and that having a procedure won’t harm the baby.”

Our verdict? If you're hoping to conceive soon, have considered bariatric surgery, and are classified as overweight or obese, you might want to discuss this piece of news with your doctor.