3 Potential Side Effects of Tubal Reversal Surgery

If you had your tubes tied, but now want to undo the knot, tubal reversal might be the solution. But it doesn’t work for everybody, and can have risks and side effects. These are a few of the most common.

Ectopic pregnancy after tubal reversal

After a tubal reversal, your chance of developing an ectopic pregnancy goes up. This means that instead of developing in your womb, the fertilized egg begins to grow elsewhere, often within the fallopian tube. Damage to your tubes – via the ligation and later its reversal – is the culprit. Surgery can lead to scarring, adhesions and blockages. This makes it hard for the egg to pass through as it should.

If you become pregnant after a tubal reversal, watch your condition very closely. As soon as you suspect you’re pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor to check your quantitative HCGs. Make sure your obstetrician knows about your tubal reversal surgery. The HCG blood test, combined with an ultrasound six weeks after your last period, can verify whether or not the embryo is developing where it should.

After a tubal reversal, your chance for an ectopic pregnancy is 2 to 7 percent. Some reproductive surgeons cite even higher odds. Following your tubal reversal, be sure to mention to your doctor that ectopic precautions should be taken.

Infection after tubal reversal

Every surgery carries the chance of complications, including infection. Up to 5 percent of all surgery patients develop a surgical site infection, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. In rare cases, surgical site infections are fatal. A surgical site infection develops within 30 days of surgery.

The main infection source for surgical site infections is contamination from microorganisms on a patient’s skin. To a lesser extent, microorganisms in women’s genital tracts can also cause infection. The microorganisms might also come from the caregiver or a surgical instrument, or even be passed through the air.

Risk factors for surgical site infections include:

  • abdominal surgeries
  • surgeries that take more than two hours to perform
  • smoking
  • being overweight or obese
  • having diabetes

Tubal reversal is considered low risk, but minor or major infections are possible. Signs of surgical site infection include:

  • fever
  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • slow healing
  • warmth

If you develop these symptoms, contact your doctor. You might need antibiotics.

Bleeding after tubal reversal

Surgery involves blood. But excessive bleeding is dangerous. In very rare cases, you could bleed enough to require a blood transfusion. In rarer circumstances, you could even die from surgical complications.

After surgery, you can expect some bleeding. However, if bleeding is heavier than your menstrual flow, or if you’re going through more than one tampon or pad per hour, call your doctor.

While tubal reversal is usually an outpatient procedure, serious infections or bleeding will complicate your healing. You could require a hospital stay and a much longer recovery time.

Updated August 2014

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