June 2014

Encouraging News for Obese Patients with Diabetes

More and more evidence supports that bariatric surgery helps patients with type two diabetes in the long term.

One of the key factors to the success of long-term diabetes remission is how long a patient has had diabetes prior to the surgery. Patients who have had diabetes for less than five years before having surgery have better success rates for long-term diabetes remission.1


STAMPEDE, a study from the Cleveland Clinic, observes how obese patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes react to bariatric surgery. They have found over the course of their so-far three year study that surgery with some medical therapy is a better method for treating type 2 diabetes in obese patients than intensive medical therapy alone. For patients who had gastric bypass surgery, 35% are able to maintain normal blood sugar with no medications and 90% were able to stop taking insulin.2 The ability for patients to stop taking insulin increases the quality of life and the study has revealed that patients who underwent surgery are more satisfied in life than the patients who have had medical therapy only. And an improvement in control of diabetes isn’t the only benefit - surgery can also help patients reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.3


Evidence also suggests that some surgeries are more effective in treating diabetes than others. Some patients who underwent the gastic bypass returned to normal euglycemia and insulin levels within days after surgery, before any significant weight loss occurred.4 However the study from the STAMEDE group indicates that gastric sleeve surgery is also effective in the long term, even if not as effective as the gastric bypass, with 37.5% of gastric bypass patients and 25% of gastric sleeve patients with blood sugar levels below the American Diabetes Association target after 3 years.3


This doesn’t mean that bariatric surgery is for everyone who’s obese with type 2 diabetes, but it does show that for those qualifying patients whose diabetes are out of control, this is a viable long-term solution for putting the diabetes into remission.