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Did you know weight-loss surgery can help treat Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes can be challenging to control. Adults with the condition must prick their fingers to check their blood sugar multiple times a day. Many also take one or more medications or use insulin injections to keep their glucose levels under control. Even with these treatments, some people have a difficult time managing their illness.
“Medications and insulin injections work to a point, but they’re like a bandage,” said Robert Farrell, MD, FACS, bariatric surgeon at KentuckyOne Health Weight Loss and Surgery Associates. “We’re now seeing a paradigm shift. Weight-loss surgery is becoming a prominent choice for some people with Type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese.”
Three weight-loss surgeries — Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric banding — were discussed at the 2nd Diabetes Surgery Summit as treatment options for Type 2 diabetes. All three are available at KentuckyOne Health and are performed laparoscopically, meaning surgeons operate through several small, key-hole-sized incisions instead of through one large incision. Laparoscopic surgery is usually less painful and gets patients back on their feet faster.
During a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, surgeons create a small pouch from a portion of the stomach. This pouch is separated from the rest of the stomach and the two upper parts of the small intestine, which are known as the duodenum and jejunum. The pouch is then reconnected to the lower segment of the small intestine, forming a “Y” shape. The surgery limits the amount of food people can comfortably eat at one time and the number of calories and nutrients that are absorbed from food.
“Metabolic changes happen almost instantly when you bypass the duodenum, so people see diabetes improvement not long after surgery,” said Joshua Steiner, MD, FACS, bariatric surgeon at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East, part of KentuckyOne Health. “Many of our patients go home needing very little of their diabetes medication.”
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimates that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass essentially cures Type 2 diabetes in 80 percent of cases. Roughly 85 to 90 percent of Dr. Steiner’s patients no longer have to worry about diabetes after surgery, and nearly 100 percent see improvement.
Dr. Farrell offers Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, which was the most performed bariatric surgery in 2015, to patients looking to improve their Type 2 diabetes symptoms. During a sleeve gastrectomy, physicians remove roughly 80 to 85 percent of the stomach. More than 80 percent of his patients who have a sleeve gastrectomy notice Type 2 diabetes improvement or resolution.
“To see that there is an option that can treat diabetes and prevent serious complications fills people with hope,” Dr. Farrell said. “These surgeries are truly life changing.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of One Health magazine. For more information about weight loss and nutrition, subscribe to One Health magazine today.