weight loss surgery and diabetes

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

Many people with diabetes who have undergone weight loss surgery have been able to reduce or eliminate the need for medication and, in some cases, have experienced diabetes remission.

Learn more about bariatric surgery at UPMC

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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 blood sugar) levels to rise higher than normal because the body does not use insulin properly. This condition is called “insulin resistance.” The condition puts people at greater risk for issues such as 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 type 2 diabetes, it may not always be enough. A variety of factors can contribute to the development of diabetes.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

If you are looking to undergo weight loss surgery, first meet with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to undergo the rigorous, months-long process of preparing for the surgery.

Several methods of weight loss surgery are available, and your doctor will help you choose the procedure that’s right for you 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 (BMI) that is greater than 40kg/m2 or who are more than 100 pounds overweight.
  • People who have a BMI greater than 35kg/m2 and suffer obesity-related health comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes.
  • People who have been unable to achieve and sustain weight loss after multiple attempts at diet and exercise.

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.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Bariatric Services

UPMC Bariatric Services is here to help if you’re struggling with obesity and want to lose weight. We offer both surgical and nonsurgical weight loss plans and can help you find the right path for a weight-loss journey. We will work with you to discuss your needs and develop and individualized treatment plan. We meet the highest level of national accreditation for bariatric surgery centers, and our team provides complete care. We offer our services at UPMC locations throughout Pennsylvania and New York. Visit our website to find a provider near you.