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Weight-Loss Surgery May Also Help Menstruation, Skin, Hair
Date:5/11/2012

arted having regular periods again. Close to 82 percent of previously amenorrheic women (those having no periods at all) had started having regular menses, too.

"We saw women who within a month after surgery were having their periods again. The majority of obese women who had irregular or no menstruation before surgery reported regular monthly periods after surgery," said Paka. "We were surprised to see how fast that can happen."

She said many also experienced a reduction in excess hair growth, hair loss (alopecia), acne, and a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans -- a darkening that can appear in the folds of the skin, around the neck and underarms, for example.

Dr. Thomas Price, an associate professor of reproductive endocrinology and fertility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said the findings aren't surprising.

"All of the results are easily explainable by the hormone changes associated with weight loss," he said. He explained that as weight loss occurs, hormonal balance improves.

Price said the study doesn't touch on the other health problems associated with a high BMI. "It doesn't get into the increase in hypertension that goes along with obesity, the increase in arthritis because of trauma to the joints, the increase in sleep apnea that can lead to hypertension and heart disease. The risk for endometrial cancer goes up. There's no joking around with the risks associated with obesity," he said.

"There is not a downside to weight loss through bariatric surgery," Price added, but he noted that women wishing to get pregnant should discuss how long to wait post-surgery before trying to conceive. Sometimes a year's wait is recommended, he said. He also said health insurance doesn't always cover the procedure.

Paka pointed out that bariatric surgery is not necessarily a solution for overweight women with fertility issues, but it's one avenue women can discuss with their obstetricians. Diet and exerc
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