Can bariatric surgery alleviate diabetes? For those who lose weight and maintain weight loss, the answer is “yes.”

Obesity and Type 2 diabetes often go hand in hand. An obese person is twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, and a morbidly obese person is ten times more likely. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; of those, nearly 90 percent are overweight.

In Type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not properly use it. Insulin is needed for the body to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, your body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose, the basic fuel for cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications, such as heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage.

Traditional treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, following a healthier diet and engaging in regular exercise. If those changes fail to correct the problem, medications are prescribed. When medications fail, the patient may need to take insulin. These treatments aren’t always successful, however, and many diabetics still go on to need dialysis, lose limbs, have heart attacks, and face other complications of the disease.

So, where does bariatric surgery fit in? In November 2009, an international group of 50 scientific and medical experts joined together to endorse diabetes surgery to treat Type 2 diabetes in morbidly obese patients and said it should also be considered for patients who are mildly to moderately obese. Diabetes surgery includes conventional bariatric or metabolic surgery, including gastric bypass, gastric banding, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and biliopancreatic diversion.

A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that 86.6 percent of patients improved or resolved their Type 2 diabetes following bariatric surgery; a study in the Annals of Surgery showed that 83 percent of 240 people who underwent gastric bypass were cured of their diabetes; and two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found that bariatric surgery reduces the long-term mortality associated with obesity.

This research points to the same conclusion: Bariatric surgery is offering new hope for those suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a potentially devastating and deadly disease.

If you or someone you care about has Type 2 diabetes, contact us to see if bariatric surgery can provide a solution.