Bariatric Surgery

Can Weight Loss Surgery Cure Diabetes?

Oct 25, 2017

Diabetes is a serious health concern that affects nearly 30 million Americans. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

November is American Diabetes Month and Nicholson Clinic wants you to be educated on diabetes, its relation to obesity, and how weight loss surgery may be able to help reduce your risk.

What is diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a weight-related health concern that develops when the body becomes insulin resistant. This means the body either does not produce enough insulin or the body does not properly use what insulin is produced. Insulin is necessary to regulate blood sugar levels and break down the sugars and starches you eat into glucose. Insulin carries the glucose to the cells in the body, where is then used for energy.

Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes — a chronic in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

When the body does not make proper use of insulin, glucose builds up in the blood stream, which can cause other health complications such as skin disorders, nerve damage (neuropathy), and eye problems like glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. It also increases risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

Am I at risk?

Weight is the single best predictor for type 2 diabetes — almost 90 percent of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or have obesity — but there others factors that may increase your risk, such as: age, race, pregnancy, stress, certain medications, genetics or family history and high cholesterol.

Since the 1990s, rates of diabetes have increased by one-third, in direct correlation to the rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity in the United States.

To find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, take this risk assessment from the American Diabetes Association.

How can weight loss surgery help reduce my risk?

Type 2 diabetes may be preventable with lifestyle changes, such as weight management, regular exercise and a healthy diet. Studies have found that losing five to 10 percent of body weight can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in adults who are high risk for the disease. Researchers have also found that weight loss surgery may deliver a more lasting method for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

“While weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily a panacea, recent research indicates it can have a profound effect on diabetes symptoms in obese patients who undergo procedures to help them shed pounds,” says Dr. Nick Nicholson. “Some patients may even find the need to take diabetes medications to control blood sugar goes away after weight loss surgery helps rid them of extra pounds.”

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted by the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, researchers examined the potential benefits of bariatric surgery in the prevention or improvement of diabetes symptoms. To find out how big of an impact surgery could have on diabetics, researchers worked with a group of 61 obese diabetics ages 22 to 55. Researchers broke the main group into two smaller ones that would undergo different types of surgery and a third group that was prescribed lifestyle and exercise changes to control their symptoms.

Over the course of the study, researchers found that patients in the two surgical groups showed more marked improvements than those in the lifestyle group. About 40 percent of gastric bypass and 29 percent of adjustable band patients, in fact, were able to achieve complete or partial remission of diabetes symptoms over time.

“The findings are especially encouraging for those who struggle both with their weight and control of diabetes symptoms,” Dr. Nicholson says. “Weight loss surgery may indeed serve to help some reverse the impacts the disease has on their lives. Maintaining weight is simply vital for diabetics who wish to gain an upper hand on this disease and its potential side effects. Surgical intervention can make a big difference for those deemed obese or morbidly obese.”

If you’re dealing with diabetes or any other weight-related condition, contact Nicholson Clinic today to discuss your candidacy for bariatric surgery. By taking the steps to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, you can potentially eliminate a variety of life-changing and even life-threatening conditions.