Weight-loss procedure curing diabetes?

August 17, 2011

BACKGROUND: According to the Mayo Clinic, gastric bypass is the most frequently performed bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than other weight loss surgeries.

Gastric bypass surgery can provide long-term, consistent weight loss if the patient exercises and eats a healthy diet. The surgery combines the creation of a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake and construction of bypasses of the duodenum and other segments of the small intestine to cause malabsorption, which decreases the ability to absorb calories and nutrients from food.

BENEFITS: Extreme obesity affects nearly 24 million adults, which is nearly 6 percent of Americans. It is associated with more than 30 medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, sleep apnea, joint disease, and cancer.

According to WebMD Health News, 89 percent of people with type 2 diabetes who underwent gastric bypass surgery went into remission, and 57 percent were still in remission after five years. The cost of treating diabetes is enormous. A person diagnosed at age 50 can expect to spend $172,000, which is the equivalent of seven gastric bypass procedures.

Diabetes has disappeared in some patients almost immediately or within days of gastric bypass surgery. Blood sugar levels begin to fall soon after surgery, becoming completely normal within a year.

SURGERY AS DIABETES TREATMENT: The International Diabetes Federation, which represents more than 200 diabetes groups across the globe, called for weight loss surgery to be considered a treatment for type 2 diabetes in certain patients with body mass indexes (BMIs) as low as 30. Improvements in general health are also common after this surgery.

Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve or even go away after gastric bypass surgery; including arthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. About 95 percent of people report improved quality of life after weight loss surgery. Some studies also suggest people live longer after weight loss surgery compared to equally obese people who do not have surgery. (SOURCE: http://www.idf.org/)

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell

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