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Two recently released studies, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, produced data that will change the conversation about bariatric surgery, also commonly known as weight loss surgery.  It’s no longer just about weight loss.  Bariatric surgery proved far more effective than medication in controlling blood sugar in obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes.

In these studies,  surgical procedures were compared head to head with traditional medical treatment of diabetes.  The results show that inidividuals with Type 2 diabetes undergoing one of three different versions of bariatric surgery (gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, or biliopancreatic diversion)  were significally more likely to lower blood sugar to normal levels than when treated with medication and diet and exercise counseling.

Researchers estimate that 80% of the 23 million adult Americans who have Type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese.  With the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. surging in tandem with the obesity rate, this becomes a very important study.

Some of the key findings:

  • The surgery patients lost five times as much weight on average than those in the medical-therapy group.
  • 75 – 95% of  patients had complete remission of diabetes two years after their procedures, and some were off of diabetes medication before being discharged from the hospital.
  • In addition to lower blood sugar and weight loss, significant improvements were also seen in cholesterol and blood pressure.

Not every patient with Type 2 diabetes is a candidate for bariatric surgery, but at least now the door is open for conversations to occur individually on the best treatment options for diabetes management.

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