Stomach surgery has been found to reverse Type 2 diabetes and has been effective at reducing or eliminating the need for insulin and other blood sugar-regulating medications. This statement was confirmed by two studies that were highly anticipated by the public. Surgery either by itself or combined with medication helped diabetics more than medication by itself.
In the studies, three types of surgery were tried. Also known as gastric bypass, the surgeries reduced the size of the stomach and bypassed part of the small intestine. In the first study, 40% of the patients who had the surgery had better control of their blood sugar. This study took place in the Cleveland Clinic.
The second study took place in Italy and doctors there had better results. Patients who had the gastric bypass surgery had a 75% remission from diabetes. A 95% remission rate was achieved from a more extreme type of the surgery. This surgery bypassed more of the intestine and is usually not performed.
Surgeons began offering gastric bypass surgery as a was to combat diabetes in the 1990s, but these two studies are the first concrete evidence that they can be an effective way to reverse or manage diabetes. In all three of the studies, patients were selected randomly, giving a stronger indication that the studies were high-quality and more accurate.
Although surgical intervention seems like a viable option, the American Diabetes Association did not recommend or even recognize surgery as an option for type 2 diabetes management until 2009. Currently, more and more doctors are recommending gastric bypass, especially for patients who have followed the recommendations but still have difficulty controlling their blood sugar.
One population that can receive the most benefits from the surgery is obese patients. When obesity is combined with type 2 diabetes, these individuals may be following lifestyle changes recommended, but still have multiple health problems and be at a greater risk for health complications.
As in any surgery, there is always the chance of complications. The rates were low in both studies, but some patients were found to be deficient in iron and calcium after the surgery. Since bypassing part of the small intestine can lead to fewer nutrients being absorbed, this is something to look out for in patients. The biggest obstacle for having the surgery is insurance coverage. Some plans offer it, but the requirements vary by state. Without insurance, the surgery costs around $25,000 which most people cannot afford. Many plans will cover the surgery if recommended by a doctor.
Can surgery reverse diabetes? The answer is yes, in some cases. While surgery may not reverse diabetes in every individual, it can dramatically improve the quality of life and help these individuals manage blood sugar. Certain populations who have trouble managing blood sugar or are obese should seriously consider having the surgery. If frustrated with managing type 2 diabetes, individuals should discuss their options with a doctor and consider having the surgery. Gastric bypass is a fairly straightforward procedure and there are hundreds of doctors who can perform it successfully with minimal complications.
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