Weight Loss Surgery May Benefit Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers report bariatric surgery may help obese patients achieve long-term remission
KNOXVILLE, TN It has long been known that obesity increases your risk for several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. Now, there’s evidence that obese patients with type 2 diabetes can control the disease better with weight loss surgery, compared to medicine alone.
“There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as age, race and family history,” said Stephen G. Boyce, M.D., medical director of the Tennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Turkey Creek Medical Center and New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery in Knoxville. “However, the single best predictor of diabetes is obesity. People who are overweight have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin properly to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. And this can lead to life-altering or even life-threatening complications.”
Diabetes affects an estimated 29 million people in the United States. It is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time may cause serious complications, including blindness, lower extremity amputations, kidney disease, heart attack and stroke.
“The good news is that weight loss surgery can provide long-lasting benefits to a patient’s health and quality of life,” Dr. Boyce said. “And now we have clinical evidence that gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy may help diabetics with moderate or severe obesity to be free of all diabetic medications for several years post-surgery.”
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that five years after weight loss surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) those who had the procedures showed better improvements in overall health, compared with those who only took diabetes medications to control the disease.
According to the study results, about one-third of those who had bariatric surgery were able to achieve a complete remission of their disease. In other words, their blood sugar returned to normal levels and they did not need medication, including diabetes pills, insulin therapy or other injectables. In addition, they lost significantly more weight and had dramatically lower triglycerides and cholesterol (blood fats) than those who were treated with medication alone.
According to Dr. Boyce, there are several types of bypass procedures, but all of them bypass part of the small intestine that absorbs nutrients. Techniques available at the Tennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss involve stapling off an area of the stomach to create a smaller pouch or surgically removing part of the stomach, both of which create a smaller stomach area. Gastric bypass reduces production of the appetite hormone called Grehlin, making it easier to eat less.
With vertical sleeve gastrectomy, also offered at Tennova, the surgeon removes the left side of the stomach through small incisions, so the remaining stomach is approximately one-tenth of the original size after about one year. This “new” stomach has a much smaller capacity, which means patients feel full or satisfied after eating only a small amount of food. The procedure has also proven to reduce the appetite hormone Grehlin. Less appetite combined with a smaller stomach makes it even easier to eat less food and lose weight.
“Obese individuals with type 2 diabetes—especially those who are more than 100 pounds over their ideal weight—should look at the results of this clinical study and give thoughtful consideration to bariatric surgery,” Dr. Boyce said. “The research shows that surgery should not be your last resort. Instead, it has the potential to lead to long-term remission of type 2 diabetes, which is as close to a cure as you can get.”
To learn more about the New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery and Tennova Center for Surgical Weight Loss and whether or not you are a candidate for bariatric surgery, call 865-694-9676 or visit TennovaWeightLoss.com.