Does Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Cure Diabetes?

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  June 3, 2011 at 3:46 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
Bariatric weight-loss surgery in obese people may have the added benefit of reducing type 2 diabetes medication use and related health care costs.In a recent study researchers found that two years after the operation, almost 85% of the patients were off diabetes medications as a result of improved blood glucose levels.
 Does Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Cure Diabetes?
Does Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Cure Diabetes?

Bariatric surgery is an umbrella term. It encompasses several weight-loss surgeries. It is an expensive surgery recommended only for patients with a body mass index greater than 30 and is considered when all other interventions have failed. Diabetes at the same time is a debilitating and expensive disease affecting millions.

In a recent study it was found that nearly 3 out of 4 patients were able to stop taking their insulin and other diabetes medications within six months of surgery. The surgery thus appeared to be a cost-effective option, reducing health care costs.

Bariatric surgery employs various strategies like making the stomach smaller by stapling part of it shut; restricting a portion of the stomach using bands; removing part of the small intestine to reduce the absorption of calories. The exact mechanism by which the surgery cuts down type 2 diabetes is unclear.

The study doesn't mean that the surgery is the new mantra for curing diabetes. The indications for bariatric surgery are limited. As already mentioned, it is tried out only when every other method to shed kilos has failed. The expensive procedure also carries its own set of possible risks. These include bleeding, infection and leaks from sites where body tissues are sewn or stapled together, and blood clots in the legs that may travel to the heart, malnutrition, regaining weight.

The impact of bariatric surgery on type 2 diabetes in obese patients is impressive. But nothing is conclusive at this point of time. The study had many limitations. It was not a specific one targeting to know the result of a surgery done exclusively for curing diabetes. Rather, the evidence comes from diabetic patients who have undergone bariatric surgery primarily for other reasons. 

It is possible that bariatric surgery might have a superior long-term effect on diabetes-specific end points and treatments but at present the data is insufficient for such a conclusion.. Authors rightly conclude that it would be premature to recommend bariatric surgery on a large scale purely as a treatment for diabetes.


Archives of Surgery

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Source: Medindia

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