Diabetes and Bariatric Surgery: What You Need to Know if You are Overweight and Have Diabetes


New guidelines published in May 2016 and endorsed by leading diabetes organizations, now call for bariatric surgery to be considered a standard treatment option for Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for roughly 90-95% of all diabetes cases worldwide and is characterized by hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. High blood sugar can damage nerve endings, often leading to kidney failure, blindness, lower limb amputation, heart attack, and stroke. Despite diet, exercise, and medications, less than 50% of type 2 diabetics achieve adequate reductions in blood sugar levels to avoid or reduce the risk of such long-term complications.

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Therefore, treatments aimed at tackling weight as well as blood sugar can have a dual impact. The recommendation for bariatric surgery as a treatment option for type 2 diabetes comes as a result of evidence from multiple clinical trials that show bariatric surgery can improve blood sugar levels more effectively than lifestyle changes and pharmaceutical treatments in obese people with type 2 diabetes.

The guidelines, published in the journal Diabetes Care and available for viewing here, are a collaboration from several organizations including International Diabetes Foundation, Diabetes UK, American Diabetes Association, Chinese Diabetes Society, and Diabetes India. They recommend bariatric surgery to induce weight loss for diabetics with a BMI over 40, and for those with a BMI over 30 who can not control their blood sugar levels through other treatment means.

This is the first time bariatric surgery (including gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgeries) has been recommended as a treatment option for diabetes. Gastric sleeve surgery involves the removal of part of the stomach, and gastric bypass involves rerouting the small intestine. Both forms of bariatric surgery induce weight loss by limiting the amount of food able to be consumed. While the safety of bariatric surgery is comparable to other forms of surgery, such as gallbladder surgery, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgeries do involve long term follow up to ensure nutritional adequacy.

If you or a loved one has a BMI above 30 and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, we encourage you to investigate bariatric surgery as a treatment option. Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in obesity surgery, holds weekly informational sessions in his Boca Raton, Florida office for those considering gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band surgery. Call Dr. Shillingford’s office today at (561) 483-8840 to schedule your informational session today to learn more about how gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band surgery can improve your weight and your health.

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