Sometimes women who have undergone tubal ligation procedures in the past face changes in their lives that leave them more open to the possibility of (more) children than they previously had thought. This leaves them wondering: can you get your tubes untied? Yes, absolutely you can, but first you should know they aren’t really knotted. The procedure involves a little bit more than just undoing a knot like it’s your shoelaces. There’s actually no knot at all. Success rates range from 40 to 80 percent, per the Mayo Clinic.
Undoing a Tubal Ligation
When a woman comes to the decision that she wants to reverse her tubal ligation, the reasons for it are usually quite obvious. Typically, she wants to have more children. However, some women will opt for a reversal of a tubal ligation if they developed Post Tubal Ligation Syndrome and hope to undo the damage caused by it. This doesn’t always work, though.
Nonetheless, reversing this procedure starts with the same surgical setup that getting it done involves. Women can expect it to be done on an outpatient basis, but they’ll still have to be put under general anesthesia. This presents minimal risks for the healthy woman. Those who are not in good health may have to postpone their surgery until their condition improves.
Reversing a tubal ligation isn’t always easy. Surgeries in which the tubes were cut are the simplest to undo. This involves a process called tubal anastomosis that sutures the two clipped ends back together. In some cases, tubal implantation may be necessary if the initial tubal ligation surgery was performed in a manner that left the woman with only one piece of tubing. Thus, the implantation method works by stretching the remaining piece of tube and placing it into the uterine cavity where the other piece would have been. An incision has to be made in the uterine cavity to make this possible. Women who had their tubal ligation performed by removing part of the fallopian tube, generally the part closest to the ovary, will need a salpingostomy procedure to restore fertility. This involves using a cauterizing tool to create a new opening in the end of the tube that closed off when it healed.
The overall cost of a tubal ligation reversal ranges from $7,000 to as much as $30,000 among most providers. This isn’t a flat fee, of course, because surgical and healthcare procedures vary widely across the nation from one location to the next; it is not a free market. In addition, the lower-priced surgeries are often performed by clinics at freestanding outpatient surgery centers whereas more expensive surgeries are performed in hospitals and require more recovery time and more in depth procedures. Thus, anyone considering having their tubal ligation reversed should speak with their insurance provider first to determine whether the surgery qualifies for any kind of medical coverage benefit. Don’t let a lack of insurance coverage get you down, though. The Journal of Fertility and Sterility reported on the results of one study noting that women with public insurance or no insurance at all were more likely to undergo this surgery than those with private insurance.
In some cases, insurance companies will pay for the full cost of a tubal ligation reversal. However, some insurance companies see this procedure as being elective and as such, it is unnecessary to the medical health of the insured. In other circumstances, some insurance providers will cover only the portions of the procedure that are not directly tied to the tubal reversal. In other words, they may pay for preoperative lab work and the cost of anesthesia, but they won’t pay the surgeon’s fee for undoing the sterilization procedure. This is less common, but some insurance companies are willing to partially pay for reversals if the burden of infertility is creating mental health issues for the patient. Of course, these issues have to be documented and proven for this method to work.
For the sake of breaking down the individual parts of the expense of reversing a tubal ligation, we’ll assume it costs $9,000 total. The bulk of that is not going to any one specific person. While the total fee seems like a lot, it isn’t all going into the pockets of the doctor performing the surgery.
Roughly $4,000 of it will go to the hospital or clinic where the surgery is being performed. This will cover the cost of the operating room where the procedure will take place. You can count on another $1,000 or so being attributed to the cost of anesthesia. The doctor will likely only make around $2,000 on this procedure. The remaining $2,000 accounts for prescription medications, nursing staff and other incidentals of the surgery.
Now let’s assume a patient is going the more expensive route at a hospital and that her surgery costs $30,000. The vast bulk of this bill is going to go toward:
- Room and board in the hospital
- Nursing staff
- Lab work
WebMD reports women who undergo more extensive surgeries can expect to stay in the hospital up to three days afterward if there are no complications. Some patients may incur additional costs if they have to travel and reserve lodging for their trip or pay for someone to help with their recovery. Insurance typically does not cover these things.