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Can Weight-Loss Surgery Cure My Diabetes?

May 21, 2019

Obesity is one of the most important factors in developing type 2 diabetes. Nearly 12 million Americans have severe obesity, which puts them at much greater risk for this chronic disease that occurs when the cells in your body become resistant to insulin.

When insulin resistance occurs, glucose cannot get delivered to the cells for energy, so it remains in the blood long-term, causing damage to your organs. Diabetes can lead to an increase in cholesterol, which in turn can trigger heart conditions. It also increases the risk of developing kidney failure and complications with eyesight, such as retinal detachment.

How Weight-Loss Surgery Helps DiabetesDoctor measuring the waste of a patient

Weight-loss, or bariatric, surgery can reverse diabetes in two ways. The first is that it decreases insulin resistance and improves your body’s sensitivity to the insulin naturally produced by the pancreas. Weight loss also increases the production of pancreatic cells so your body can create more insulin.

Bariatric surgery provides more permanent weight loss compared to diet programs. About 70 to 80 percent of people who have weight-loss surgery will lose weight and maintain it. If you successfully maintain weight loss after surgery, you’ll have a higher likelihood of reversing the effects of diabetes.

Weight loss starts immediately after surgery and can continue for up to two years. Within a few weeks, your diabetes typically begins to improve. 

Amber’s Story

Being overweight was a condition Amber had lived with since she was 8 years old . By the time she was 29, she weighed 350 pounds. That was a turning point for her. Since her bariatric surgery, she has lost 180 pounds. She’s also off her blood pressure medication and is no longer considered pre-diabetic. In fact, she’s not taking any medications at all.

Not so long ago, she had to lean on a buggy just to walk around a grocery store. She couldn’t even walk from her desk to the bathroom without excruciating back pain. Because of bariatric surgery, she was able to change her life — and health.

Types of Weight-Loss Surgery to Consider

Bariatric surgery has been divided into three types with varying results:

  1. A restrictive procedure that allows you to reduce the amount of food you consume through a lap band sleeve gastrectomy or vertical banded gastroplasty. Both of these procedures lead to a moderate amount of weight loss with high recurrence of weight gain.
  2. A combined restrictive and malabsorptive approach that shortens the small intestine is accomplished using a gastric bypass and duodenal switch. This approach has good results and leads to the most weight loss, but requires intense follow-up, and vitamin and protein supplements.
  3. Balloon or endoscopic plication, which are good if you have a lower body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 35. The weight loss results are adequate.

Risks for weight-loss surgery are similar to those of any surgical procedure and include the rare risks of infection, bleeding and mortality. The risk of malnutrition when undergoing these procedures is 1 in 200 and most often only occurs when the post-surgery nutritional recommendations are not met.

If you have a BMI of 40 and above, have been obese for more than 5 years and have unsuccessfully attempted to lose weight with diet or exercise, weight-loss surgery may be the way to reach a healthier weight and lessen the impact of diabetes.

Are you curious about weight loss surgery?

Learn more about bariatric surgery, your options and our approach with a free 90-minute session with details on weight loss surgery and an opportunity to speak with a weight loss surgeon by making an appointment or calling (321)-8HEALTH.

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