What are the Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery?

As a person with diabetes, you may have heard that weight loss surgery can "cure" your disease. But are there any drawbacks? Let’s check out some information on this trend.

What type of weight loss surgery is most beneficial for type 2 diabetes?

First of all, not everyone with diabetes qualifies for bariatric surgery. “The American Diabetes Association recommends that weight-loss surgery be considered only for people with type 2 who have a BMI of 35 or higher.”1 You will also likely have to pass a health screening that proves you are in good condition to undergo surgery. There are different options for weight loss surgery, but one has proven to be superior for treating type 2 diabetes. “The most common type of weight-loss surgery is gastric bypass, which involves rearranging the digestive tract. In this procedure, a surgeon divides the stomach, creating a small upper pouch that severely restricts how much food one can comfortably eat. A part of the small intestine is then brought up and attached to the stomach pouch, bypassing a large portion of the small intestine. This causes the body to absorb less food. Gastric bypass surgery stands out as particularly beneficial for type 2—resulting in more weight loss and better blood glucose levels—compared with other types of weight loss surgery that leave the intestine intact.”1

What are the long-term effects of weight loss surgery?

There are some side affects to having bariatric surgery. During the healing process, as well as years later, patients may experience something called “dumping syndrome.” This is when the food leaves the stomach rapidly, enters into the small intestine and leads to diarrhea. Patients may also be at higher risk for nutritional deficiencies as each place in our digestive tract is responsible for absorbing different vitamins and minerals. If any of those places were altered during surgery, it may decrease the level of absorption for these key nutrients. Most patients who underwent bariatric surgery are encouraged to take daily vitamins. Patients are also encouraged to continue a more restrictive diet post-surgery to maintain weight loss, which can be a difficult habit for some to sustain. The statistics may be worth the trouble. “Severely obese people have an 89 percent lower risk of death over the first five years after weight-loss surgery than people with similar characteristics who don’t have the surgery. Bariatric surgery is also associated with an 82 percent lower risk forcardiovascular disease. Most people with type 2 diabetes are able to reduce or eliminate diabetes medication after weight-loss surgery.”1

Is weight loss surgery for me?

If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you would be a good candidate for weight loss surgery, speak to your physician. He or she can make recommendations as well as get refer you to a physician that specializes in these procedures. The important thing to remember is that this is not a quick fix. There will still be a lot of hard work including possible complications from surgery, maintaining a healthy diet and working to keep the weight off.

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