Two studies published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine have found that bariatric weight-loss surgery can reverse diabetes in obese patients far more effectively than medication and lifestyle coaching alone.
In summary, the studies showed some dramatic results, including patients who could stop taking insulin only days after surgery, even before losing large amounts of weight.
Dr. Peter LePort, bariatric surgeon at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., estimated that 25-35 percent of his patients have type 2 diabetes.
“A significant portion of my patients come in not only because they’re heavy but they say, ‘I have to get rid of my hypertension, my diabetes, my back pain’ and that’s motivating them more than the weight loss,” LePort said. “The significant thing here is gastric bypass seems to get rid of diabetes very quickly even before they lose all the weight.”
LePort said he would like to see research on whether gastric surgery can cure diabetes in patients who are not morbidly obese.
In one study, patients at the Cleveland Clinic who underwent stomach-shrinking surgeries were compared to those who took medication and received intensive lifestyle and weight-loss coaching. After a year, the surgery patients had lost more weight and many were able to control their blood sugar without medication.
The authors wrote, “We conclude that bariatric surgery represents a potentially useful strategy for management of uncontrolled diabetes, since it has been shown to eliminate the need for diabetes medications in some patients and to markedly reduce the need for drug treatment in others.”
In the other study at Catholic University in Rome, patients who underwent surgery were also compared to those who didn’t. For those who had surgery, the remission rate from diabetes was up to 95 percent. As in the other study, the surgery patients also lost more weight.
© 2012 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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