Bariatric Surgery as Cure for Diabetes

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Bariatric surgery is a procedure designed to help patients lose weight, but what may be even more important is that it can also help resolve diabetes for patients with this disease.
“Diabetic patients who undergo bariatric surgery are often cured of diabetes following the procedure,” said Christopher Still, D.O., director of the Geisinger Center for Nutrition and Weight Management. “This has been an incredible breakthrough for patients, as diabetes is often a very challenging condition to manage.”
A 2004 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that diabetes was completely resolved for more than 76 percent of the 22,000 surveyed patients, and 86 percent of patients saw improvement in their diabetes. In an Annals of Surgery study, 83 percent of diabetic patients were cured after undergoing gastric bypass surgery, the primary bariatric procedure used at Geisinger Medical Center.
Although the procedure is most effective against type 2 diabetes, it also has been shown to improve other medical problems such as obstructive sleep apnea and fatty liver disease, Dr. Still said. By resolving diabetes via surgery, patients are often able to avoid medications and insulin injections as well as not needing their CPAP breathing machines at night.
“Many non-surgical treatments for diabetes can be ineffective, expensive and difficult for patients to maintain,” Dr. Still said. “Bariatric surgery may completely resolve diabetes in one procedure, and in the long run surgery may be less expensive than the lifetime commitment to purchasing medications.”
To ensure that patients have the best chances of resolving their diabetes following surgery, Dr. Still makes sure that patients dedicate themselves to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program. .
“Approximately 90 percent of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are obese, and obese patients are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to someone who is not obese,” Dr. Still said. “As a result, patients who are unable to maintain their new body weight after bariatric surgery run the risk of a resurgence of their diabetes.”
While the correlation between bariatric surgery and the resolution of diabetes is clear, research is still being conducted to determine the exact mechanisms of action on how this occurs, Dr. Still said.
“Studies are being done to investigate a variety of potential explanations, including the way that fat cells can affect how the body responds to insulin, or how hormones are altered by the procedure,” Dr. Still said. “There is no definitive conclusion, but it is clear that the surgery can resolve obesity as well as other obesity related diseases and help patients enjoy a higher quality of life.”
Source: Geisinger Health System


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