It’s not a new notion that bariatric surgery, especially gastric bypass, often puts patients’ diabetes into remission. It’s something that weight loss surgeons have long known by witnessing the phenomenon in their own patients.
Of the than 1,700 bariatric procedures Dr. Jonathan Ray and I have done over the past 10 years, probably 80 percent of those patients have been diabetic. Within a just a few days of surgery (or sometimes sooner), the majority of diabetic patients are off their insulin and experiencing a drastic improvement in their pancreas function.
I don’t like to use the word “cure”, because in some cases diabetes can return if the patient doesn’t follow the recommended diet and regains their weight. However, the idea that the remission of diabetes is prompted by the surgical rerouting of part of the digestive system, independent of weight loss, is gaining new ground.
Growing evidence suggests that incredibly fast metabolic changes are taking place when the small intestine is rerouted, such as in gastric bypass. This could explain why diabetes remission is somewhat less prevalent in sleeve or gastric banding patients, where the intestine stays intact.
With an estimated 25 million American children and adults living with diabetes, it’s increasing important to identify options for treating this previously “uncurable” disease.
The next step is to educate the public and physicians about the use of bariatric surgery to remedy diabetes, especially in patients for whom medication and lifestyle changes have been ineffective.
The hope is that in the near future, severely diabetic patients will have a viable and accepted treatment for stopping this deadly disease.
For further information about the bariatric procedures performed by Dr. Mark Colquitt and Dr. Jonathan Ray, please visit www.foothillsweightloss.com.