Diabetes and Weight Loss Surgery

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Affecting approximately 30 million Americans, diabetes is a condition involving an inability to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels. A significant contributing factor associated with diabetes is weight. Obesity also increases the risk of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and other underlying conditions that can make it more difficult to manage diabetes. For individuals living with diabetes and struggling with weight issues, weight loss surgery may have several potential benefits.

Lifestyle Intervention Is Effective

More than 90 percent of all individuals with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This is the type of diabetes largely affected by lifestyle factors such as a lack of regular exercise, unhealthy eating habits, and excess weight. There’s compelling evidence suggesting positive lifestyle changes, including losing weight, often leads to remission of the disease.

Improvements After Weight Loss Surgery

Nearly everyone with diabetes who has weight loss surgery will see some improvements with their condition. In addition to lowering blood sugar levels, successful weight loss may also result in improvements with diabetes-related health problems such as chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and poor circulation in feet. Some individuals are also able to reduce their dependence on certain medications.

Benefits Outweigh Risks for Diabetics

Type 2 diabetes is considered one of the leading causes of death in the United States. While there are certain risks associated with any type of surgery, the potential risks often outweigh the many health-related benefits diabetics may experience with weight loss. Advancements in weight loss surgery, including the use of less-invasive surgical techniques, have also made many of the common weight loss procedures performed today safer for most patients. Part of the reason for the increased reliability of many types of weight loss surgery is the careful screening that patients undergo prior to surgery of this nature. Options with bariatric surgery include:

  • Roux-en-y gastric bypass: Eighty percent of patients see remission of diabetes following this procedure and 15 percent see improvements.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy: Diabetes remissions rates this procedure, which involves removal of a large portion of the stomach, are more than 60 percent.
  • Adjustable gastric band: Remission rates range from 45-60 percent for patients preferring to have an adjustable band placed around the upper portion of their stomach.
  • Duodenal switch: More than 80 percent of patients see improvements with their diabetes or experience remission following this malabsorptive procedure.

Managing diabetes shouldn’t be the only reason to consider weight loss surgery, and it’s important to note that everyone’s experience varies. However, it’s one of several benefits that may result from bringing weight down to a healthy level. The related lifestyle changes patients are encouraged to make following weight loss surgery, especially with diet and exercise habits, can also reduce issues with diabetes.