Recovering From Diabetes After Weight Loss Surgery

Type 2 diabetes remission after bariatric surgery tied to lower blood sugar levels before surgery

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

(RxWiki News) Some obese people with type 2 diabetes choose weight loss surgery to drop pounds and improve their health. What makes a weight loss surgery patient likely to recover from diabetes?

A recent study found that type 2 diabetes patients undergoing weight loss surgery were more likely to go into remission from diabetes if they had lower blood sugar and more stable insulin production before surgery.

Remission means a great reduction or absence of disease activity.

The study also showed that a lower body weight was linked to better type 2 diabetes outcomes.

"Ask your doctor if weight loss should be part of your diabetes treatment."

Andrea Ooi Se En, MBBS, MS, from the E-Da Hospital, led this study.

People who are obese, or extremely overweight, and do not respond to typical weight loss methods sometimes choose bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is designed to help patients eat less and thus lose excess weight.

According to the authors of this study, weight loss surgerey has been shown to lead to remission of type 2 diabetes.

This study specifically looked at laparoscopic roux-en-Y gastric bypass, or LRYGB, and how it helped people recover from type 2 diabetes.

In LRYGB, the surgeon creates a small pouch in the upper part of the stomach and closes off the lower part of the stomach. A part of the small intestine is split and re-routed so that the food coming from the stomach pouch does not pass through most of the small intestines.

As a result, the patient feels fuller with much less food and absorbs fewer calories from food.

For this study, the researchers looked at patients with type 2 diabetes, a condition that frequently accompanies obesity.

People with type 2 diabetes develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes patients have persistently high blood sugar, which can lead to a number of other health problems.

In total, 384 patients participated in this study. Of these participants, 260 had a BMI greater than 35, while 124 had a lower BMI. People who have a BMI over 30 are typically considered obese.

The average age of the patients was 41.26 years old, and the average BMI at the time of surgery was 38.9. 

Each of the participants underwent LRYGB from December 2005 to April 2012.

The researchers collected data on each patient's gender, age, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio and blood sugar.

They assessed whether the patients went into remission from type 2 diabetes one year after their surgeries. To be in remission, patients would have to have a significantly lowered blood sugar.

After following up with the patients, the researchers looked at the common characteristics among participants whose weight loss surgery helped them recover from type 2 diabetes.

They concluded that people who had lower blood sugar levels before the surgery and more C-peptide, a byproduct of insulin, in the blood were more likely to go into type 2 diabetes remission.

The researchers also found that blood sugar levels while fasting were predictors of remission in people with a BMI of 35 or greater. For people with BMIs that were less than 35, body weight was a significant predictor.

This study was presented at the Obesity Week conference on November 13, and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. As such, the findings should be interpreted with caution.

The researchers declared no funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 19, 2013
Last Updated:
November 19, 2013