Health Team

Doctor: Bariatric surgery can help control Type 2 diabetes

Posted May 26, 2016 10:52 a.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2016 5:57 p.m. EDT

Bariatric surgery has been known to enhance weight loss for people struggling with obesity.

Now, the American Diabetes Association recommends it as an option for people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes as well.

Dr. Philip Schauer of Cleveland Clinic says the new guidelines give doctors another tool for treating Type 2 diabetics who aren't responding well to standard medical therapy.

"Type 2 diabetes is rampant in this country, it is a major killer—it's the seventh biggest killer in our country, it is the major cause of blindness, of kidney failure and amputations in our country and despite the fact there has been better drug treatment, still many patients are not in good control," Schauer said.

Schauer says the goal is to put more people in control of their disease and even helping some achieve remission.

In the past, Type 2 patients were put on diet and exercise plans and often given medication to control blood sugar.

ADA members looked at several trial results worldwide that showed bariatric surgery helped patients achieve better blood sugar control and reduced their risk for cardiovascular disease.

The surgery is now recommended for more people than ever before.

"Even patients with fairly mild obesity, BMI as low as 30, they may be eligible for surgery based on relatively new evidence that suggests that these operations are fairly effective and safe," Schauer said.

Schauer says advances in surgical methods have made bariatric surgery not only effective but also very safe. Bariatric surgeons once limited the surgery to people who were morbidly obese, meaning, they had more than one weight-related health issue like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or heart disease.

Now, many patients who don't have those complications but have trouble losing weight have had these surgeries.

Doctors say it's not a magic pill: It does require real lifestyle changes in diet and exercise to be successful in the long term.