Obesity is a potential risk factor for the development and progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and weight loss is a key component of diabetes management. Bariatric surgery results in significant weight loss and remission of diabetes in most patients. After surgery, glycemic control is restored by a combination of enforced caloric restriction, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and increased insulin secretion.

Evidence is mounting for the use of bariatric surgery to treat type 2 diabetes in patients whose body mass index (BMI) is 35 kg/m2 or higher. In obese patients who also have type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery sends it into remission without the need for diabetic medications.

Facts About Diabetes

  • Someone in the world dies from complications associated with diabetes every 10 seconds.
  • Diabetes is one of the top ten leading causes of U.S. deaths.
  • One out of ten health care dollars is attributed to diabetes.
  • Diabetics have health expenditures that are 2.3 times higher than non-diabetics.
  • Approximately 90 percent of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), the most common form of diabetes, is attributable to excessive body fat.
  • If current trends continue, T2DM or pre diabetic conditions will strike as many as half of adult Americans by the end of the decade. (according to the United HealthGroup Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer by sales).
  • The prevalence of diabetes is 8.9 percent for the U.S. population but more than 25 percent among individuals with morbid obesity.
  • Metabolic and bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for T2DM among individuals who are affected by obesity and may result in remission or improvement in nearly all cases.

Bariatric Surgery and Type 2 Diabetes

Nearly all individuals who have bariatric surgery show improvement in their diabetic state. Bariatric surgeries performed on more than 135,000 patients were found to affect type 2 diabetes in the following ways:

Surgery improves type 2 diabetes in nearly 90 percent of patients by:

  • lowering blood sugar
  • reducing the dosage and type of medication required
  • improving diabetes-related health problems

Surgery causes type 2 diabetes to go into remission in 78 percent of individuals by:

  • reducing blood sugar levels to normal levels
  • eliminating the need for diabetes medications

Health Improvements

  • Cause the improvement or remission of T2DM to last for years

While bariatric surgery certainly has some risk, the long-term risk of continued diabetes (which is often inadequately treated with medication) typically outweighs the risk of a surgical procedure for most patients. Each patient’s individual risks for surgery, though, should be evaluated in the context of the duration and severity of their diabetes as well as their other obesity-related health problems.