Half of the U.S. population has diabetes or is at a high risk of it, and the nation’s obesity rate is approaching 40 percent. Bariatric surgery offers people struggling with obesity a way to get rid of the weight and diabetes at the same time.
“One hundred percent of people who have bariatric surgery are improved, and well over 65 percent have their diabetes go into remission,” said Michael Snyder, MD, FACS, PC, the medical director of the Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery at Rose Medical Center.
Within 48 hours post-surgery, most patients’ sugars normalize and they don’t require insulin anymore. Oftentimes, people go from taking three diabetes medications to zero. Within months, their A1C goes from an 11 to a 5.
“Bariatric surgery is the most effective way to manage diabetes in a patient who is 100 to 150 pounds overweight. And keeping your weight off post-bariatric surgery is the most effective way to prevent the reoccurrence of diabetes,” said Jessica Crandall Snyder, a registered dietician nutritionist and certified diabetes educator who supports patients at the Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery pre and post-surgery.
Without the surgery, “if your BMI is 35 to 40-plus, your chances of losing weight and keeping it off is 1 to 3 percent over five years,” Dr. Snyder said.
Following bariatric surgery, the remission rate for diabetes nationally is around 74 percent two years post bypass surgery, according to Jessica Crandall Snyder. At the Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery, the rate is even higher — 79.2 percent remission of Type 2 diabetes at two years.
“Perhaps best of all, bariatric surgery adds years on to your life, and the quality of those years is much improved,” said Dr. Snyder. That’s because most obese diabetics face co-morbidities like neuropathy, retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction and more, which severely decrease the quality of their final years.
Best bariatric surgery for diabetes
A gastric sleeve and a gastric bypass are the most common procedures in the U.S. for these indications. The duodenal switch is the third option for diabetics who have been insulin-dependent for 10 years or more.
Dr. Matthew Metz at Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery was the first person in Colorado to perform a duodenal switch in 2013.
“While the duodenal switch has been available as an open operation since the late 1980s, we’ve made significant improvements,” Dr. Metz said. “It’s now minimally invasive, and there are fewer side effects. The long-term data on this procedure shows, in some cases, as high as a 98.9 percent resolution in diabetes.”
New medical guidelines released in 2016 and widely supported by the medical community endorsed bariatric surgery as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Despite this, many people have no idea a surgical cure for diabetes exists. The Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery strives to educate patients. Obesity is a disease and there is a cure that’s widely covered by insurance.