Can surgery cure diabetes?

In Hampton Roads, obesity has become a significant health epidemic, with two-thirds of Virginians considered overweight or obese. With a climbing obesity rate comes a growing number of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. More than 530,000 adults in Virginia have type 2 diabetes; of this group, 85 percent are also obese or overweight.

Morbidly obese patients with type 2 diabetes are often prescribed medications, including insulin and metformin, that don’t cure the disease. These patients spend over twice as much on healthcare than those without the disease. The CDC estimates that about $174 billion is spent on diabetes annually.

Surgical weight loss may provide hope of a diabetes cure for some morbidly obese patients. Researchers are finding that gastric bypass surgery and other bariatric procedures can change intestinal hormones, helping patients control appetite and cure diabetes. Patients with a BMI of 35 or higher that have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within the last 10 years have the best chances for a diabetes cure.

Numerous studies have shown that bariatric surgery is superior to medications in sending diabetes into remission. A study of 22,000 morbidly obese patients revealed that 86 percent of patients who had bariatric surgery saw improvement or a cure of type 2 diabetes. Their annual healthcare costs decreased by 34 percent after two years and by 70 percent after three years.

If you are obese and have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, consider attending one of our free bariatric seminars, the first step toward a healthier you in 2014.

By Anthony D. Terracina, MD, FACS

About Dr. Terracina – Anthony D. Terracina, MD, FACS, is director of bariatrics for Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital and a leading bariatric surgeon with the Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Center.

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