Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes

By on February 27, 2012
Womens bariatric surgery before and after

More than 67 million Americans are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. And being overweight is one of the primary risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

Carrying excess body weight raises the risk of developing diabetes because it increases the body’s resistance to insulin, making it harder to lower blood sugar levels. Over an extended period, people with high blood sugar levels and diabetes may experience heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, leg and foot amputations, and complications during pregnancy.

Many people who are obese or morbidly obese turn to bariatric surgery to help them lose weight when other weight loss efforts fail. Bariatric surgery helps achieve long-term weight loss by either reducing the size of the stomach to decrease the amount of food it can hold, or by shortening the small intestine to reduce the amount of calories and nutrients the body can absorb.

Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes

In addition to helping patients lose weight, bariatric surgery also has been shown to decrease the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that obese patients with Type 2 diabetes who underwent gastric banding were five times more likely to have their diabetes go into complete remission compared to patients who followed conventional weight loss therapies. Other studies have reported similar results. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that nearly 75 percent of patients who had surgery to reduce the size of their stomachs eliminated their diabetes medications within six months.

Diabetes Improves Right After Bariatric Surgery

Following bariatric surgery, diabetes improves even before substantial weight loss. Research has shown that hormones in a stomach that has been altered by surgery can manage blood glucose levels better than just weight loss by itself. These hormones help control food intake and improve insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, resulting in a stabilization of blood sugar levels.

In addition to improving diabetes, bariatric surgery can have positive effects on other conditions associated with obesity, including hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, joint disease, asthma and infertility.