Can Diabetes be Cured After Weight Loss Surgery?

Friday, February 17, 2012

By Joseph Regan, MD, Surgeon & Medical Director, Columbia St. Mary’s Bariatric Center

Type 2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes has become an epidemic in this country. It is one of the most common, serious and costly chronic diseases affecting Americans today. According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.8 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes and approximately 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older just in the year 2010. In addition, 79 million Americans are considered pre-diabetic.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Americans with diabetes face shortened life spans and can suffer preventable acute and chronic complications such as kidney failure, blindness and lower extremity amputations. It contributes to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.

The link between diabetes and obesity has led to a greater number of gastric bypass procedures being performed. After a weight loss procedure, many patients will lose over 100 pounds. Over 90 percent of diabetic patients experience dramatic improvements in their blood sugar levels. Obese patients who have had diabetes for less than five years and undergo gastric bypass surgery can often see complete remission of their diabetes and no longer require medications. The improvement in blood sugar and diabetes is often seen within days after gastric bypass surgery. Many patients will be discharged from the hospital without any diabetes medications.

The medical costs per year for treating diabetes in the United States are now estimated to be $116 billion. As the incidence of diabetes and obesity continue to increase, the medical costs associated with their treatment will also rise. Weight loss surgery does have associated risks and is not the appropriate choice for every patient, but successful surgery and subsequent improvement or resolution of diabetes can have dramatic effects on patients’ overall health, quality of life and associated medical costs.

If you have additional questions about weight loss surgery and its link to diabetes remission, I encourage you to attend my community education talk, Can Diabetes be Cured After Weight Loss Surgery, on Wednesday, February 22 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. This talk is free of charge and will be held at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee, 13111 N. Port Washington Road in Mequon. Please call (414) 963-WELL (9355) to register.



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