Tubal reversal is just as serious and involved a surgery as the procedure it reverses, tubal ligation. In most cases, it is invasive and comes with the same risks as any major surgery. However, many women choose tubal reversal as the more cost-effective alternative to in-vitro fertilization.
Typical Risks of Surgery
Tubal reversal, as an invasive surgical procedure, comes with inherent risks. Bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia and damage to nearby organs or tissues are all risks associated with surgery. Experienced surgeons take precautions to minimize the potential impact of these side effects. If you have a known allergy to anesthetic or painkillers, inform your doctor so alternatives may be explored.
Increased Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy
Studies show that the risk for an ectopic pregnancy is higher in women who have had a tubal reversal procedure than in those who had not. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants inside a tube instead of within the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous to the mother and the fetus and a serious risk. A family history of ectopic pregnancy will increase your risk.
Risks for Patients Over 40
In some patients who have a tubal reversal surgery after their 40th birthday, there has been a risk of not being able to reconnect the tubes at all. Scar tissue from the initial tubal ligation or from pelvic inflammatory disease may make it difficult to access the tubes. If the amount of tubal tissue left on each side of the ligation is too short, the surgeon will not be able to reconnect them.
Patients over forty also have a higher risk of one or both tubes re-closing as it scars. Pregnancy can still occur if only one tube has closed, and closure of both sides is rare. However, if the patient has not gotten pregnant after a year, additional scans can determine whether the tubes have scarred shut.
Miscarriage and Other Pregnancy Complications
Physical changes to the reproductive channels has an effect on the movement of both sperm and egg. If the reconnected tube is significantly shorter than it once was, the egg will travel through the tubes faster which can lead to a miscarriage. In other cases, pregnancy can be carried to term, but the infant can be stillborn. This risk is worse for women who are over 40. Several other factors have an impact on your risks for miscarriage and complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Your doctor can help you determine if your risk factors outweigh the benefit of having the surgery. If you proceed with the operation, your doctor will advise you on how you can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and avoid miscarriage. Conception may be significantly delayed for months or even years after surgery, or it could happen as soon as your next menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis Still a Risk
A tubal reversal surgery does not lower the risk for developing endometriosis. If you were already at risk for this condition, you can still develop it after a tubal reversal. This condition is often painful and can be dangerous.