Pregnancy following bariatric surgery - medical complications and management

Ram P Narayanan, Akheel Syed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bariatric surgery is most commonly carried out in women of childbearing age. Whilst fertility rates are improved, pregnancy following bariatric surgery poses several challenges. Whilst rates of many adverse maternal and foetal outcomes in obese women are reduced after bariatric surgery, pregnancy is best avoided for 12-24 months to reduce the potential risk of intrauterine growth retardation. Dumping syndromes are common after bariatric surgery and can present diagnostic and therapeutic challenges in pregnancy. Early dumping occurs due to osmotic fluid shifts resulting from rapid gastrointestinal food transit, whilst late dumping is characterized by a hyperinsulinemic response to rapid absorption of simple carbohydrates. Dietary measures are the mainstay of management of dumping syndromes but pharmacotherapy may sometimes become necessary. Acarbose is the least hazardous pharmacological option for the management of postprandial hypoglycemia in pregnancy. Nutrient deficiencies may vary depending on the type of surgery; it is important to optimize the nutritional status of women prior to and during pregnancy. Dietary management should include adequate protein and calorie intake and supplementation of vitamins and micronutrients. A high clinical index of suspicion is required for early diagnosis of surgical complications of prior weight loss procedures during pregnancy, including small bowel obstruction, internal hernias, gastric band erosion or migration and cholelithiasis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2523–2529
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number10
Early online date3 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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