Weight loss surgery proven as safe treatment for type 2 diabetes

The American Diabetes Association and the International Diabetes Federation recently announced their unanimous support of weight loss surgery as a safe and vitally important treatment for diabetes. It is their hope that this surgery will become a more commonly used strategy as physicians begin to understand the benefits.

In fact, the entire June 2016 issue of the American Diabetes Association’s journal, Diabetes Care, is devoted to a joint statement by these organizations and other articles that provide factual support for this recommendation.

Is it a cure?

“Weight loss surgeons have known for over 30 years that gastric bypass surgery is the safest and most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes,” says Guilford Hartley, MD, an internal medicine specialist and Medical Director of the Hennepin Bariatric Center. “This consensus has now been adopted by those who provide non-surgical treatment for diabetes as well, including endocrinologists and other medical specialists involved in the care of diabetes.”

“I won’t say the absence of diabetes symptoms is a cure,” says Hartley, “but it comes close. When weight loss patients achieve normal blood glucose (sugar) and can go off their diabetes medications, it sure looks like we’ve found a cure for this deadly disease, but we prefer to say their diabetes is in remission. No matter what you call it – the absence of having to manage diabetes and being able to avoid its life-threatening complications makes a tremendous difference in the lives of patients.”

Earlier surgery can prevent diabetes complications

It also makes sense not to wait until diabetes has done its damage to a patient. Studies have also concluded that if the surgery is done as soon as possible after a diagnosis of diabetes, the likelihood of remission is greatest and likely to last many years. In most cases, weight loss surgery is appropriate in severely overweight people even before diabetes develops and can improve the likelihood that a person will never develop diabetes.

In addition to reducing or avoiding the complications of diabetes, studies show that severely overweight people who have weight loss surgery live longer and with a better quality of life than they would have without the surgery.

The Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program is an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Center of Excellence. The ASMBS Center of Excellence designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of favorable outcomes in bariatric surgery. For more information, go to hcmc.org/weightloss or call 612-873-5479.

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