This Surgery Could Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Roux en Y gastric bypass may lead to more type 2 diabetes patients stopping insulin use than adjustable gastric banding

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Unlike diamonds, type 2 diabetes doesn't have to be forever. Weight loss surgery may help patients reverse type 2 diabetes.

A new study — which compared the effects of weight loss surgeries Roux en Y gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding on diabetes — found that Roux en Y helped more patients reverse their type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as a lifelong disease, but it may not always be. Researchers at Newcastle University in the UK wrote on their website that reversing diabetes is, in fact, possible — given the right conditions.

"Our work has shown that type 2 diabetes is not inevitably progressive and life-long," according to statements on Newcastle's website. "We have demonstrated that in people who have had type 2 diabetes for 4 years or less, major weight loss returns insulin secretion to normal."

And major weight loss is exactly the desired outcome of weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass and gastric banding. In Roux en Y gastric bypass, a surgeon makes a smaller pouch out of the stomach, preventing the patient from eating too much. Adjustable gastric banding, often referred to as a "lap-band," is similar — the surgeon uses a band to constrict a part of the stomach, making the area that can hold food smaller.

The authors of the current study, led by Ali Tavakkoli, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, studied more than 5,000 patients who had undergone gastric bypass or banding and had type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease marked by too much sugar in the blood. This excess sugar is the result of an inability to process insulin (called insulin resistance). Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3 percent of the US population — or 29.1 million people — has diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often tied to an unhealthy diet and obesity.

Because their bodies do not properly process insulin, many diabetes patients take insulin in the form of an injection. Among the patients in the current study, 62 percent of those who underwent a Roux en Y gastric bypass had stopped taking insulin a year after their surgery. For those who had adjustable gastric banding, that figure was 34 percent.

Dr. Tavakkoli and team wrote that Roux en Y gastric bypass was the "procedure of choice for reversing type 2 diabetes."

This study was published Jan. 8 in the journal Diabetes Care.

Funding sources and conflicts of interest were not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
January 9, 2015
Last Updated:
January 12, 2015