Diabetes is a very well-known and, unfortunately, very common disease that impacts millions of people around the world. In our line of work, we often see patients struggling with the effects of this disease. Which leads to an obvious question regarding our line of work: Does gastric bypass cure diabetes?
First things first: Diabetes is diagnosed in two different types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is oftentimes hereditary and cannot be prevented, whereas lifestyle factors appear to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
A high percentage of people living with type 2 diabetes are obese patients due to lifestyle, and therapy for this diagnosis usually includes a change of diet, oral medications or insulin injections, exercise, and more.
If the patient cannot lose the extra body weight through traditional methods, gastric bypass can be used to help positively impact the patient’s type 2 diabetes.
But is gastric bypass a cure for diabetes? Well, that’s a little more complicated, but the answer appears to be YES! Type 2 diabetes remission is an ongoing topic of research. In order to achieve remission, patients should inform themselves of the often complex combination of medical procedures and lifestyle changes.
What is gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric bypass is a procedure that leaves only a small portion of the patient’s stomach, known as the pouch. The pouch will hold very little food. That means the patient will eat less and will be able to lose a significant amount of weight.
Weight loss can be the first step in a number of lifestyle changes that can help patients over the long term — even years after surgery. Studies show that this surgery, in particular, changes the process of digestion, as well, which can assist in eliminating type 2 diabetes.
Here’s how gastric bypass surgery reduced serious medical problems.
After surgery, the digestion process will change and cause the small intestine to spontaneously produce a molecule called GLUT-1, which helps the body use glucose. A recent study looked at 20,000 patients and determined that 84% of people who went through gastric bypass saw a reversal of their type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, these patients generally saw quick improvement in blood sugar levels and were then able to reduce their intake of diabetic medication before they started losing weight. (1)
This is exciting news for people living with diabetes, especially since, along with the symptoms of diabetes itself, the disease can lead to additional — and extremely serious — health issues. These can include heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, or even medically necessary amputations.
Diabetes is very common. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2018, about 34 million Americans — more than 10% of the population — had diabetes. Of those, 1.6 million have type 1 diabetes, including 187,000 children and adolescents.
Each year, doctors diagnose an additional 1.5 million Americans with diabetes. In 2015, providers diagnosed 88 million Americans with prediabetes.
What is prediabetes? According to the Mayo Clinic, “prediabetes means you have a higher than normal blood sugar level. It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet, but without lifestyle changes, adults and children with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.”
About 9 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes share some common characteristics that led to them being diagnosed as such. Namely, they have type 2 diabetes due to obesity, family history, a lack of physical activity, and advanced age.
Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes
There are many therapies for type 2 diabetes. These include increasing the amount of exercise a diabetic patient engages in. But it also includes changes in diet as well as medical interventions, such as insulin injections and antidiabetic drugs administered orally.
However, these therapies, as helpful as they are in managing diabetes, will not eliminate the disease. In some cases, doctors will recommend surgery to help a patient eliminate additional weight. Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common methods used for assisting with additional weight loss.
Diabetes and Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery involves the surgical removal of a portion of the stomach, leaving just a small pouch behind. As mentioned above, the pouch can only hold a reduced amount of food. This means the patient feels fuller sooner and eats less. This caloric reduction leads to significant weight loss.
More than that, however, gastric bypass ultimately alters the digestive process within an individual. This means the patient’s food intake travels through the esophagus. From there it enters the newly formed stomach pouch and then travels into the small intestine.
It is this alteration of the digestive process that doctors and researchers believe may help cure type 2 diabetes in many patients. This is because the small intestine will begin to produce a molecule known as GLUT-1. This molecule helps the body utilize glucose.
A study of 20,000 patients revealed that 84% of those who had gastric bypass procedures saw a reversal of type 2 diabetes along with swift improvement in blood sugar levels.
WeightWise, Gastric Bypass, and Diabetes
Do you have diabetes caused by excess weight? Have traditional methods of weight loss not worked for you?
You may feel frustrated because of how difficult diabetes can be to manage. Gastric bypass surgery could be right for you.
The gastric bypass — full name: the Laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass surgery, sometimes called roux en y surgery — is one of the gold standards of weight-loss surgeries. It has a 40-year track record of success. This history of success provides surgeons the world over with an enormous amount of data on its effectiveness and applicability.
If you think you might be ready to discuss the Laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass surgery or any of our other weight loss procedures with one of our doctors, we are ready and excited to discuss whether or not you are a candidate for this type of surgery.
Our experienced team at Weight Wise can help answer your questions and determine your eligibility.
Attend one of our seminars or view one online to see what we can do for our patients. We look forward to helping you with your journey of weight loss.
(1) Thomas Rogula MD, Stacy Brethauer MD, Bipand Chand MD, and Philip Schauer, MD. “Bariatric Surgery May Cure Type 2 Diabetes In Some Patients.”