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Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - New studies show bariatric surgery can help reverse “diabesity”

New studies show bariatric surgery can help reverse “diabesity”
By Ragui Sadek, M.D., F.A.C.S.

The benefits of weight-loss surgery to combat diabetes have been in the headlines recently after two randomized studies confirmed the procedure can facilitate substantial weight-loss and minimize or even eradicate the disease. Diabetes diagnoses have tripled in the U.S. over the last three decades, reaching epidemic proportions. It is also a common disease associated with obesity, often referred to as “diabesity.” These findings are particularly important because they are the first head-to-head trials comparing surgery versus traditional diabetes medical treatment.

Conclusive data supports weight loss surgery

For years, bariatric surgeons have been reporting that a substantial percentage of their diabetic patients consistently alleviate the condition after having weight-loss surgery, often within weeks of the operation. Now, this conclusion has also been confirmed through hard data found in these trials. In one study, diabetic patients who underwent bariatric surgery had complete diabetes remission rates of 75 percent and 95 percent after two years, while those study participants treated only with traditional diabetic medication and diet restriction achieved 0 percent remissions.

How does bariatric surgery rid some patients of diabetes? The stomach and intestine are not just for absorption of nutrients from food. They also serve as an endocrine organ producing dozens of hormones. Those hormones are directly related to the regulation of the body's insulin. Researchers reported weight loss surgery introduces changes in the anatomy that alters the levels of gastrointestinal hormones which subsequently affect the metabolism of sugars and fats.

Which bariatric surgery is right for me?

The three safest and most common weight-loss surgeries performed today are:

  • Gastric Bypass ─ A large portion of the stomach and small intestine is closed off leaving only a small pouch to hold a minimal amount of food.
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy ─ The stomach is surgically reduced to resemble a “sleeve-shaped” shape.
  • Adjustable Gastric Banding ─ An inflatable band is inserted around the upper portion of the stomach to restrict food intake. The band is adjusted as necessary during the weight loss process.

The type of procedure performed is determined by each patient’s current health, lifestyle and weight-loss goals. All of these procedures are performed using minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgical techniques allowing for quicker patient recovery with less scarring and blood loss. Current guidelines from the National Institutes of Health say bariatric surgery may be appropriate for people with a body mass index (BMI) over 40, or over 35 if the person has diabetes or other obesity-related chronic conditions. Should you decide to pursue weight-loss surgery, partner with a board-certified bariatric surgeon specialist and a hospital offering comprehensive bariatric services including pre- and post-surgical nutritional counseling and ongoing support group services.

CentraState Medical Center’s Bariatric Weight-loss Program has been designated as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). “Is Weight-loss Surgery Right for You?” free seminars are offered monthly at the Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center. To learn more, call (866) CENTRA7 or visit centrastate.com.

Dr. Sadek is a board-certified, fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. He can be reached at Advanced Surgical and Bariatrics of NJ by calling (732) 640-5316.