What are the Effects of Gastric Bypass Surgery on Diabetes?

Rebekah Worsham
Rebekah Worsham
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.

The popularity of gastric bypass surgery has grown along with the obesity epidemic and the increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, the planet in 2011 holds more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them diagnosed as clinically obese. One of the most serious complications of obesity is the onset of type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease marked by high glucose levels in the blood. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can result in blindness, amputation of one or more limbs as a result of poor circulation, and even death. While not a cure, the effects of gastric bypass surgery on diabetes are promising.

Gastric bypass, which involves stomach stapling, is one of the most commonly performed obesity surgeries.
Gastric bypass, which involves stomach stapling, is one of the most commonly performed obesity surgeries.

When traditional weight loss approaches fail, many obese patients turn to gastric bypass surgery to assist them in their weight loss goals. For many of these people, gastric bypass surgery is their last hope of obtaining a more normal weight and a healthier lifestyle. A common question asked by those who are considering weight loss surgery is whether gastric bypass will cure their diabetes. There is no cure for diabetes, but the statistics are promising in diabetic patients who have experienced a significant weight loss.

Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can result in blindness and amputation.
Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can result in blindness and amputation.

The effects of gastric bypass surgery on diabetes are tied to the reduction in body weight that occurs as a result of gastric bypass surgery. The weight loss has multiple benefits. For example, research shows that, among patients studied, sugar levels in type 2 diabetics begin to drop closer to normal levels almost instantaneously as the weight comes off, with roughly 80 percent of diabetics entering complete remission after the procedure. In addition, studies show that the weight loss caused as a result of gastric bypass surgery can lead to a reduced risk of cancer in many people.

In rare cases, patients may experience serious complications following gastric bypass surgery.
In rare cases, patients may experience serious complications following gastric bypass surgery.

That being said, the effects of gastric bypass surgery on diabetes are not easy to come by. Gastric bypass is major surgery that involves sectioning off a small pouch of the upper stomach and attaching it to the lower section of the small intestine to limit the amount of food the stomach can hold. As with all surgeries, gastric bypass involves a certain amount of risk and a person’s doctor will need to evaluate whether his patient is healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Complications can include infections, hernia, bowel obstructions and even death in approximately one out of every 1,000 gastric bypass surgeries performed.

In addition, the effects of gastric bypass surgery on diabetes can only be seen by patients who follow a revised diet and exercise program following the procedure. As with any weight loss program, overindulgence can cause the pounds to creep back on as the newly constructed stomach stretches to accommodate excess food. As a result, most post-surgery patients are closely monitored to help them develop healthier eating habits to maintain their new found weight loss and healthy sugar levels.

Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone. It has, however, proved to be a valuable tool in the fight against obesity and diabetes. With the addition of hard work and the commitment to swap unhealthy habits for a more beneficial lifestyle, gastric bypass surgery and the effects it has on diabetes have given hope and a new lease on life to thousands of formerly obese patients.

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    • A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
      A scalpel is a small, sharp knife that is used in surgeries to make incisions.
    • Gastric bypass, which involves stomach stapling, is one of the most commonly performed obesity surgeries.
      Gastric bypass, which involves stomach stapling, is one of the most commonly performed obesity surgeries.
    • Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can result in blindness and amputation.
      Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can result in blindness and amputation.
    • In rare cases, patients may experience serious complications following gastric bypass surgery.
      In rare cases, patients may experience serious complications following gastric bypass surgery.