Can I Get Pregnant After Gastric Bypass? 7 Weight Loss Surgery Myths

Kirsty at RealSelf on 26 Nov 2013 at 9:00am

woman on scale

As more than 60 million Americans inch toward obesity, weight loss surgeries (WLS) like gastric bypass, Lap Band and the gastric sleeve are ever more in demand. But, despite the fact that WLS is undeniably popular in the US -- there's still a great deal of misconception and myth surrounding these life-saving procedures.  

Here's RealSelf's short "myth-busting" list on what you should (and shouldn't) believe about WLS:

1) It's impossible to gain weight after having a gastric bypass.

before after gastric sleeve

Having weight loss surgery is a tool in a long journey to a healthier, fitter and slimmer you. If your diet and exercise regimen does not significantly change after surgery, the likelihood is that you'll gain weight

Says Dr. Ricardo M. Bonner, a Houston bariatric surgeon, "[Weight gain] after surgery is related to the same bad habits that led to significant weight gain pre-surgery. It's important [immediately post-op] to establish healthy habits that will carry you the rest of your life."

"Though I'm not capable of eating as much as I did before the surgery, I'm able to eat enough that I could certainly pack on the pounds if I didn't watch my diet very carefully, " says RealSelf community member Charlotte Vale.

2) You have to be 300 pounds to qualify for surgery.

before after gastric bypass woman

The guidelines surgeons use to qualify if you're WLS candidate, are set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and based on body mass index (or BMI). Your BMI is a calculation of your body fat based on height and weight

The NIH recognizes anyone with a BMI equal to, or greater than 30, as "obese." If your BMI is less than 30, you are unlikely to be approved for weight loss surgery.

However, it's not just based on weight -- other medical conditions are taken into consideration, such as diabetes.

3) After surgery, you're on a liquid diet for the rest of your life.

before after bariatric surgery photo

This is not true. However, you will be on a liquid diet for a short period of time. Before surgery, your doctor will put you on a liquid diet for approximately two weeks -- which allows your liver to shrink and makes the surgery easier to undertake. After surgery, you'll be on a liquid diet again for 1 to 2 weeks, and eventually transitioned to a regular diet of solid foods.

4) You will be left with a huge scar on your abdomen.

before after gastric bypass

A few decades ago, this may have been true. However, lap band, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass are now carried out laparoscopically -- meaning that your procedure will be performed through very small incisions.

"The laparoscopic technique is a minimally invasive way that a surgeon can perform complex procedures that used to require the conventional large incisions," says Dr. Bonner.

"There are four small incisions on my belly and two are almost healed already. There was never any blood or pus, nothing grosser than having four small "boo-boos". As long as I took my pain medication, I had very little pain," says RealSelf community member Zelda Smith.

5) If you have weight loss surgery, you cannot get pregnant.

before after lap band photo

It is possible to have children after weight loss surgery. That said, most doctors will advise you to wait 1 to 2 years after your procedure.  Ideally, you should be close to your goal weight (and no longer actively losing). This will also give you time to stabilize the changes in hormones after surgery.

In addition, procedures like gastric bypass can inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals. This means you'll need extra time to stabilize any nutritional depletion with daily vitamins.  All of the above can affect your abilty to get pregnant, and why your doctor will advise you to wait.  

6) All weight loss patients will have "dumping syndrome."

before after gastric surgery photo

"Dumping syndrome" which can include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea 30 to 60 minutes after you eat -- is common after weight loss surgery, but not experienced by everyone. Some people don't "dump" at all, some occasionally, and some extensively. 

But, if you do find you suffer from dumping syndrome, "Avoiding excessively fatty foods and high-sugar simple carbohydrates may help to ease the symptoms," says Dr. Otto Placik, a Chicago-based plastic surgeon.

RealSelf community member amwhit says, "I have dumping syndrome but know my limits, which is a cookie or a snack-size candy bar. That is my cut off."

7) Insurance will not cover my weight loss surgery.

before after gastric bypass 12

Insurance companies also use NIH guidelines when considering coverage for your weight loss surgery. But again, it's not just based on your weight. If you have other health risk factors, like diabetes or a history of heart disease -- it may be possible to use this as supporting evidence for your insurance claim.

"I did not have any [additional] risk factors to get the surgery [covered], but I [emphasized] my [history of] breast cancer and the insurance company O.K.'ed it," commented RealSelf member, Myselfagain, in her gastric bypass review.

Want more about gastric bypass, lap band or gastric sleeve surgery? Click here!