Bariatric surgery, not medications, may be the key to producing dramatic drops in weight and even the remission of diabetes symptoms among type 2 patients, says a study from the University of Rome.
Researchers there report that of morbidly obese patients in a control group who underwent the form of bariatric surgery called sleeve gastrectomy, 80 percent ceased to have any symptoms of diabetes within 18 months of the surgery. Their body mass index, which had averaged 41.3 before the procedure, dropped to 28.3 after the surgery.
The study involved 60 patients, half of whom underwent the bypass while the other half were given standard diabetes medications. The patients who received only medication as their therapy showed no changes in symptoms or BMI. Symptoms included blood pressure, sleep apnea, and cholesterol levels.
Results of the Italian study support conclusions from other recent studies that bariatric surgery in many cases produces almost immediate results in lowering blood sugar levels and longer-term effects, including the complete remission of the diabetes within a year.
Bariatric surgery uses two methods to help morbidly obese people lose weight: sleeve gastrectomy, where a band is inserted around the upper stomach; or gastric bypass , which restructures the digestive system to make food bypass certain sections. Unable to feel as hungry or digest as much food as before, patients often experience dramatic weight loss.
In the United States, bariatric surgeries currently cost from $10,000 to $15,000 per procedure. While increasing the number of surgeries could produce price-lowering economies of scale, the procedure will never be cheap. Nor will it ever be abundant: The United States currently has 26 million people diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 and type 2, with type 2 being the predominant form of the disease).
Nearly 2 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year, and while overweight and obesity are often associated with type 2, the number of type 2s who would qualify for bariatric surgery on the basis of their BMIs is not statistically large.
Still, as surgeons and researchers report often dramatic changes brought on by the surgery, there is a move to lower the BMI number, currently 35, that qualifies a patient for the procedure. Right now the target BMI is 31, the point at which bariatric surgeons and other advocates of the procedure are hoping insurance companies and HMOs would extend coverage.
Source: HealthDay News