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Bariatric Surgery Can Act As Cure For Diabetes


Bariatric surgery is a procedure designed to help patients lose weight, but an unexpected side effect is that it can also help rid patients of diabetes.
"Diabetic patients who undergo bariatric surgery are often cured of diabetes following the procedure," said Christopher Still, D.O., director of the Geisinger Center for Nutrition and Weight Management. "This is an incredible development for patients, as diabetes is often a very challenging condition to manage."
A 2004 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that diabetes was completely resolved for over 76 percent of the 22,000 surveyed patients, and 86 percent of patients saw improvement in their diabetes. In an Annals of Surgery study, 83 percent of diabetic patients were cured after undergoing gastric bypass surgery, the primary bariatric procedure used at Geisinger Medical Center.
The procedure is most effective against type 2 diabetes. It hasn't proven to be a cure against type 1 diabetes, but it can improve a patient's condition, Dr. Still said. By resolving diabetes via surgery, patients are able to avoid medications and insulin injections.
"Many non-surgical treatments for diabetes can be ineffective, expensive and can be difficult for patients to maintain," Dr. Still said. "Bariatric surgery can completely resolve diabetes in one procedure, and sometimes it may be cheaper for a patient to undergo surgery instead of having to purchase medications continually over a number of years."
In order to ensure that patients stay diabetes-free following surgery, Dr. Still stressed that patients must dedicate themselves to maintaining their new body weight.
"Approximately 90 percent of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are obese, and obese people are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes when compared to someone who is not obese," Dr. Still said. "As a result, patients who fail to maintain their new body weight after bariatric surgery run the risk of re-developing their diabetes."
While the correlation between bariatric surgery and resolving diabetes is clear, research is still being done to determine the reasons why bariatric surgery can act as a diabetes cure, Dr. Still said.
"Studies are being done to investigate a variety of potential explanations, including the way that fat can affect how the body responds to insulin, or how hormones are altered by the procedure," Dr. Still said. "There is no definitive conclusion, but it is clear that the surgery can act as a diabetes cure and can truly help patients enjoy a higher quality of life."
About Geisinger Health System
Geisinger is a $2.1 billion integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development and implementation of innovative care models including advanced medical home and ProvenCare ("warranty") program. The system serves more than 2 million residents throughout 41 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Source: Geisinger Health System

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