Diabetes and Weight Loss Surgery

Author: S. Bledsoe, M.D.

Nobody denies that America has a huge problem with diabetes.  Consider the facts released recently by the American Diabetes Association and the Centers for Disease Control.  By 2050, up to one American in three will suffer from diabetes.  Approximately 24 million U.S. adults have diabetes of which about 18 million of them are currently diagnosed.  About 57 million Americans have prediabetes meaning they have elevated blood sugars but not to the level of a diabetic.  The CDC estimates the annual cost of diabetes is $174 billion.   More than 65% of people with diabetes die of a heart attack or a stroke.


In 1992, a landmark paper was published entitled, “Is Type II Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) a Surgical Disease.”  This paper detailed the results of the gastric bypass on 137 patients with diabetes.  The data revealed that diabetics were cured of their disease over 75% of the time and improved over 90% of the time.  This was astonishing information at the time and began a trend of examining the effects of weight loss surgery on diabetics.  Over the past two decades, the numbers have held true over many hundreds of manuscripts and hundreds of thousands of patients.  When accounting for all procedures, weight loss surgery results in a cure for diabetes about 75% of the time and results in significant improvement in approximately 90% of patients.


If you are thinking about weight loss surgery as a cure for your diabetes, consider the following.  First, your body mass index (BMI) must be 30 or greater. There are numerous websites that can assist you with calculating your BMI.  Second, success rates are determined by many factors including choice of procedure, how long you have been diabetic, and the severity of your diabetes.  Your Bariatric Surgeon can help you maximize your results and give you realistic expectations.  Third, obtain as much information as possible about your medical and surgical options as it relates to diabetes.


Regardless of which procedure you choose, post-operative vitamin and nutritional supplementation is paramount for your success and, more importantly, your safety.  Many deficiencies can be avoided simply by taking a high quality multi-vitamin specifically formulated for the surgical weight loss patient.

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