How Weight Loss Surgery Could Affect Your Diabetes

Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, can be a life-changing procedure for those who are obese and seeking to adopt a healthier lifestyle. And it may help those with Type 2 diabetes successfully manage their condition.

Many diabetic patients who have undergone weight loss surgery have been able to reduce or eliminate the need for medication — and in some cases experienced diabetic remission.

Learn more about bariatric surgery at UPMC

The Connection Between Diabetes and Weight

Obesity is a major risk factor for developing diabetes. So, it makes sense that losing weight can either reduce your chances of getting diabetes or help you manage the condition if you have already been diagnosed.

Type 2 diabetes causes blood glucose (or sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly, in a condition called “insulin resistance.” Those with Type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of conditions like stroke and heart attack. Losing weight is one of the best ways to manage diabetes.

After weight loss surgery, blood sugar levels may normalize. As a result, patients may be able to modify their medication or even eliminate it over time.

While weight loss is a critical step in treating your Type 2 diabetes, it may not always be enough. A variety of factors can contribute to the development of diabetes.

RELATED: What Is Pre-Diabetes?

Types of bariatric surgery

Those looking to undergo weight loss surgery must meet with a doctor for approval before undergoing a rigorous, months-long preparation process for surgery.

Several methods of weight loss surgery are available, and your doctor will help you choose a procedure based on your needs and medical history. Weight loss procedures include:

Visit the website for the Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence at UPMC for more information.

Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Only a doctor can decide if bariatric surgery is right for you. Generally, people who qualify for bariatric surgery include:

  • People who have a body mass index that is greater than 40kg/m2 or who are more than 100 pounds overweight
  • People who have a body mass index greater than 35kg/m2and suffer obesity-related health co-morbidities, including Type 2 diabetes.
  • People who have been unable to achieve and sustain weight loss after multiple attempts at diet and exercise.

RELATED: Bariatric Surgery Patients See Significant Weight Loss

Diabetes and Weight Loss Surgery

A recent review published in the Annals of Translational Medicine looked at data from many studies on weight-loss surgery and diabetes. The results strongly suggest that the earlier someone has weight loss surgery, the better their improvement will be, likely because diabetes is a progressive disease.

People who were significantly overweight and at high risk for diabetes, but hadn’t yet developed the disease, saw a long-term reduction in their risk for developing it. The risk was lowered by 96 percent for two years and 78 percent after 15 years. The review also found that the less time someone had been dealing with diabetes, the better their chances of remission were after surgery.

As with any major medical procedure, bariatric surgery does carry risks. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of surgery and what type of surgery may provide the best help for you.

To learn more about weight loss surgery, and to find out if you are a candidate, visit the UPMC Bariatric Surgery website.