Can You Reverse Your Type 2 Diabetes?

Studies show that weight loss surgery can help manage or even eliminate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that affects 14% of American adults, many of whom are unaware that they have the condition. It can cause eye, kidney, and nerve damage, as well as put patients at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Type 2 diabetes is directly linked to obesity — in fact, almost 25% of those with severe obesity (a BMI above 35) are affected by the disease.

Fortunately, patients can effectively manage type 2 diabetes by making certain lifestyle changes and, if necessary, undergoing weight loss surgery. In many cases, the condition can even be reversed, meaning a person’s blood sugar returns to a normal range without the help of medication. As such, patients who are proactive in addressing their diabetes can prevent the serious health consequences associated with the disease.

What’s the Best Way to Manage Diabetes?

There are many strategies patients can employ to improve their health and control their blood sugar, but some are more effective than others. A University of Pittsburgh study examined the effects of gastric bypass surgery, gastric band surgery, and a lifestyle weight loss program on 61 obese patients living with type 2 diabetes. The research found that while 65% of gastric bypass recipients and 33% of gastric band wearers no longer required diabetes drugs, no one in the lifestyle program group was able to stop using their medication.

Further, patients’ diabetes went into partial or complete remission for 40% of the gastric bypass group and 29% of the gastric band group. Again, none of the lifestyle program participants’ diabetes went into remission.

The study also revealed the specific health benefits of bariatric surgery. In terms of weight loss, gastric bypass recipients lost an average of 25% of their body weight and 11% of their body fat, while gastric band wearers lost 15% of their weight and just under 6% of their body fat. Members of the lifestyle program group, however, dropped less than 6% of their weight and just 3% of their body fat.

While all study participants were able to lower their blood sugar, the results were most promising in the gastric bypass and gastric band groups. Gastric bypass recipients lowered their blood sugar by 66 mg/dL and saw their A1c (a type of hemoglobin used to detect diabetes) levels drop by 1.4%. Gastric band recipients dropped their blood sugar by 35 mg/dL and saw a 0.8% decrease in their A1c levels. The lifestyle group saw only a 20 mg/dL drop in blood sugar and a slight rise in A1c levels.

The results of this study suggest that bariatric surgery is the most effective approach to managing one’s type 2 diabetes. While the reduction in body fat that results from such surgery plays a key role in eliminating type 2 diabetes symptoms, the real key to reversing the condition may rest with how the procedure alters the digestive tract. After gastric bypass surgery, the intestine takes a more active role in absorbing food, leading to increased production of a molecule called GLUT-1. This hormone helps the body process glucose, and therefore lowers blood sugar levels.

Sustained Success After Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery helps accelerate weight loss beyond what can be achieved through lifestyle changes alone. It also has the potential to facilitate the greatest strides in diabetes management by enhancing the body’s ability to regulate glucose.

However, to ensure the long-term results of bariatric surgery, it’s important for patients to commit to certain lifestyle changes. After gastric bypass, gastric band, or any other form of bariatric surgery, patients should adhere to a low-calorie, low-sugar, high-fiber diet, as well as take part in regular physical activity.

If you’re considering weight loss surgery to treat your type 2 diabetes or other weight-related health problems, consider scheduling an appointment at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors. You can set up a free phone call with a bariatric coordinator or book an in-office consultation. Start your journey to the new you today!