Is Bariatric(weight loss) Surgery safe for Diabetes?

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Bariatric surgery is known to be helpful in treating diabetes!

Diabetes is a serious health condition which brings more severe health problems along with it. When blood sugar levels increase and cross the safe levels, an individual is tested positive for diabetes. Cells get their energy from blood sugar. This glucose is absorbed by the cells with the help of a hormone known as insulin (made in the pancreas). When the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin, the glucose or energy fails to get absorbed by the cells and mixes with the blood. The condition causes diabetes and soon leads to several other health complications of nerves, eyes, and kidneys.

Bariatric Surgery to Treat Diabetes

One of the major reasons for a person to develop diabetes is weight gain. Severely obese people fall under high risk of developing diabetes. Excessive consumption of food, especially that are high in carbs, increases fatty acids in the blood and causes lipid-fat build-up in muscles and liver. This causes inflammation and insulin resistance. With time, the pancreas ceases to make insulin causing diabetes.

Thus, treating obesity may help in controlling or treating diabetes. Several studies have found that bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery can help in treating diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.

There are different types of bariatric surgeries available, and most of them are minimally invasive that can be done using laparoscopy.

Research shows that patients who underwent a bariatric surgery showed improvements in type 2 diabetes. In a long-term studying involving 400 people who had type 2 diabetes, about 62% of them had no signs of diabetes post-surgery. Their triglyceride levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure were also under control. On the other hand, just 6% – 8% of people who did not undergo any surgery but took some form of diabetes medicine showed similar results.

Hence, bariatric surgery is both safe and effective in treating diabetes.

Who Can Undergo a Bariatric Surgery?

There are some important considerations that are taken into by the surgeons/ doctors/ specialists who perform bariatric surgery. Here is what you should know before you approach a doctor to undergo bariatric surgery:

For bariatric surgery to treat diabetes

  • A patient must have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35 or more. They should be more than 100 lbs over their ideal body weight. They are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and/or other health conditions because of obesity. The patient is unable to achieve normal fasting blood sugar >125 mg/dl or HbA1c > 7%, then they are a candidate for bariatric surgery.
  • In certain cases where the diabetes is uncontrollable, patients can be eligible for bariatric surgery even if they don’t exceed the normal eligible BMI or have a BMI which is less than 35.

What are the Types of Bariatric Surgeries Available?

There are different types of bariatric surgeries available for obese patients with various health conditions, including diabetes. They are targeted to make one feel less hungry, change the way the body absorbs nutrients/calories, and so on. Here are some common and most effective bariatric surgeries that you may consider:

  1. Gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass)

Besides losing between 60% to 80% of their excessive weight, 80% of people who underwent this form of bariatric surgery also showed no signs of diabetes. The surgery involves making a smaller stomach pouch by barricading the top portion from the remaining stomach. The food consumed goes in the new smaller pouch created, bypassing the top of the small intestine. This way, the patient eats less food, doesn’t feel hungry quickly, and absorbs lesser nutrients and calories.

  1. Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch

This is a complicated surgery but is considered one of the most effective bariatric surgeries for patients looking to treat diabetes. The process requires removing a large part of the stomach and connecting it to the last bit of the intestine  – the food enters the new stomach and empties in the last part of the intestine. This procedure involves bypassing a larger section of small intestine, so lesser food is digested, and lesser calories are absorbed. It also changes the natural process of digestive breakdown of food. People can lose between 60% to 70% of their weight. It also changes the natural process of digestive breakdown of food. People can lose between 60% to 70% of their weight.

  1. Gastric sleeve (also known sleeve gastrectomy)

60% of the people undergoing this bariatric surgery are known to show no signs of diabetes post-surgery. The process is minimally invasive and is done laparoscopically. The surgery requires removing a large part of the stomach. Patients don’t feel hungry and consume less food. This surgery also tends to reduce the production of a hunger hormone known as ghrelin.

Conclusion

There are many more types of bariatric surgeries available. Bariatric surgery is a safe option to treat diabetes. However, you must consult with your health physician who will help you decide on the bariatric surgery that would best suit your condition.