Can Diabetes Be Cured with Bariatric Surgery?

bariatric surgery and diabetes
Studies have shown that bariatric surgery alleviates the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in many cases. Post-op weight loss maintenance is the key to diabetes remission. Today we will look closely at the correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetes as well as will answer the question “Can bariatric surgery cure diabetes?”
Currently, 40% of adults living in the United States above the age of 20 are considered obese and 32% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight according to the BMI chart of measurement. These statistics are staggering! The fact that only 28% of adults in the United States are of a healthy weight is mind-boggling. There are several diseases and conditions that have a direct relationship to obesity, type 2 diabetes being one of the top 3.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the sugar levels in our blood become too high. Why is there sugar in our blood? You might ask. When we consume food, our digestive system starts to break it down. It takes carbohydrates and turns them into glucose – a sugar that gives the cells in our body energy and is critical to our lives.

Next, the glucose goes into our bloodstream to be delivered to our cells to provide us with energy. Glucose cannot get into the cells without the presence of insulin which in a sense “opens them up to receive the glucose”. Once the insulin works for its magic and hands over the glucose to the cells, the sugar level in the bloodstream lowers and the process starts again.

The body is designed to keep itself healthy so it will store glucose, in the form of glycogen, in the liver and the muscles just in case it needs it before we eat again. When our blood sugar starts to get low, our bodies start reminding us to eat. A healthy body keeps this cycle going but when something goes wrong, it can cause the sugar in our blood to reach unsafely high levels.

In type 2 diabetes the body becomes resistant to insulin and causes chronic high sugar levels. An individual with type 2 diabetes is required to monitor their blood sugar level regularly, watch their diet, and may require insulin or some other type of medication to control their sugar levels.

Diabetes can be chronic, inhibit a patient’s quality of life, and can cause heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, blindness, and a host of other problems including death.

Bariatric Surgery for Diabetes: What Do Studies Say?

According to a study published by the Postgraduate Medical Journal, of the 2,721 participating individuals who suffered from type 2 diabetes, 86% of them were obese. Several other studies have been conducted that show similar results.

Obesity is a large contributor to diseases like type 2 diabetes. The University of Pittsburgh conducted a small study made up of 61 patients with type 2 diabetes. They were separated into 3 groups:

All of the patients were monitored closely for 3 years and scientists tracked their weight, A1 C levels, fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin, and the use of diabetes medication including insulin.

Group 1 showed the biggest improvement in all areas with an average reduction of 25% of their total body weight and 11% of body fat. This group also experienced the most reduction in waist size which was indicative of losing visceral fat – the dangerous type of fat that surrounds internal organs and interrupts the processing of blood sugar.

Group 2 showed a reduction of 15% of total body weight and a 6% reduction in body fat.

Group 3 showed the poorest progress with an average of 6% total body weight loss and only a 3% reduction in body fat.

All three groups experienced an improvement in their blood sugar levels with the gastric bypass group seeing the most improvement and the Lifestyle group seeing the least. After 3 years, both the gastric bypass (65%) and gastric band groups (33%) had a significant amount of patients that no longer needed any medication to control their blood sugar levels. There was not one person in the Lifestyle group that went into remission.

There were added benefits for the gastric bypass and gastric lap band groups. Both groups saw a significant improvement in cholesterol and levels. The gastric bypass group also saw improvements in blood pressure levels while the gastric banding group saw an increase. The lifestyle group saw very little improvement in either.

Does Bariatric Surgery Get Rid of Diabetes?

Now that we see the correlation between obesity and diabetes, we can understand that if obesity contributes to diabetes, then losing weight can counteract it. It sounds easy, right? If you want to get rid of type 2 diabetes, lose weight.

Studies have shown that obese patients whose BMI has reached 35 or higher have a 1% chance of reaching a normal body weight and maintaining it by themselves. As we saw demonstrated by group 3 in the University of Pittsburgh study, the lifestyle group was unable to make enough progress alone. It is not easy at all!

This is where weight loss surgery can change this individual’s life and possibly save it. A study of statistical data conducted by the National Bariatric Surgical Registry (NBSR), in the UK, indicated that ¾ of patients that had type 2 diabetes and had bariatric surgery no longer required any insulin or medication to control their blood sugar by 12 months post-op. Studies and reports keep popping up, all pointing to the fact that bariatric surgery alleviates type 2 diabetes in most cases.

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What Type of Bariatric Procedure Is Considered the Best Surgery for Diabetes Type 2?

Over the past several years, numerous studies have been dedicated to learning more about obesity and how bariatric surgery influences type 2 diabetes in patients.

Initially, many doctors felt that gastric bypass surgery was more effective in counteracting the disease however the results a study conducted on diabetic obese patients that followed them and their progress for 5 years, concluded that it is the weight loss itself that alleviates the symptoms of diabetes and not the method in which the weight is lost.

For severely obese patients, gastric bypass offers more help in losing weight because it not only limits the stomach size but reroutes a portion of the digestive system and causes malabsorption.

Gastric sleeve surgery has also been very successful in treating type 2 diabetes. There are other non-surgical weight loss procedures that can result in significant weight loss such as a gastric balloon or endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.

Does Gastric Bypass Surgery Cure Diabetes?

Gastric bypass surgery is a wonderful tool to help obese patients lose weight. Losing excess weight and reducing BMI is what relieves obese patients from weight-related conditions and diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Any weight loss procedure or surgery that helps a patient to accomplish a significant weight loss could put type 2 diabetes into remission. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder and while patients with type 1 diabetes can successfully have weight loss surgery, it will not put their diabetes into remission.

Can Diabetes Return after Gastric Bypass?

Losing weight is what puts diabetes into remission so it is also logical to assume that gaining the weight back will trigger further diabetic episodes. The records of 72 obese patients who suffered from type 2 diabetes, had gastric bypass surgery, and had attended their follow-up visits for at least 3 years were closely reviewed.

32% of the individuals experienced a total reversal of their diabetes. However, by the 5-year mark, 21% of these patients had their diabetes return. The patients who did not experience the reversal lost more weight and maintained it throughout the entire follow-up timeline.

It is noteworthy to point out that researchers discovered that individuals who had experienced diabetes for more than five years before their weight loss surgery were almost four times more likely to have a recurrence. This would suggest that obese individuals who have diabetes would be best served by having weight loss surgery sooner rather than later. This would be beneficial not only to the patient but to the Healthcare System.

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Hello Bariatric Surgery, Goodbye Diabetes!

Obesity is a key influence in the emergence of type 2 diabetes in patients. The significant weight loss experienced after bariatric surgery causes remission of type 2 diabetes in most patients and eliminates their need for diabetic medication.

Bariatric surgeries that assist patients in losing a greater amount of weight and maintaining the weight loss are more successful in eliminating type 2 diabetes. Studies indicated that procedures such as gastric bypass surgery and gastric sleeve surgery were more successful than gastric banding.

Doctors May Recommend Bariatric Surgery for Diabetes

The recent studies and data available regarding the correlation between obesity, weight loss, and remission of type 2 diabetes may be a game-changer in the future. According to the CDC, every year at least 237 billion dollars are spent on medical costs related to diabetes.

Simply put, $1 out of every $4 spent on healthcare costs in the United States is used to care for patients with diabetes. WHAT? No wonder the costs of healthcare have skyrocketed.

Cure the problem instead of only controlling the symptoms. As medical advances continue and patient education increases, it is the hope of doctors everywhere that instances of type 2 diabetes will decrease.

If you are suffering from type 2 diabetes and are interested in weight loss surgery, or learning more about non-surgical weight loss procedures, please contact our office today. The team of IBI Healthcare Institute is ready to help you lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.

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