Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Weight Loss Surgery May Help Moderately Obese, Too

It reduces symptoms of type 2 diabetes, studies found, but surgical risks exist

continued...

The second study included 120 people from four teaching hospitals in the United States and Taiwan. They all took part in an intensive lifestyle and medical management program before the study, and half of the group was given gastric bypass surgery.

All had a BMI between 30 and 39.9, with an average of 34.3 in the medical management group and 34.9 in the surgery group. They also all had type 2 diabetes.

A year later, 28 people from the surgery group and 11 people from the medical management group met the study's goals. These goals were to have an HbA1C level of below 7 percent (a measure that indicates good blood sugar control); LDL or "bad" cholesterol of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter; and systolic blood pressure (the top number) of less than 130.

Overall, those in the surgical group needed three fewer medications. They also lost significantly more of their initial body weight -- about 26 percent for the surgical group compared with 8 percent for the medical management group, the study found.

However, there were 22 serious adverse events in the surgical group compared with 15 in the medical management group. And, one person in the surgical group had a number of complications that eventually led to brain damage, which will likely be permanent.

"The risk of these surgeries is fundamentally low, but we can't make it zero. Most of the complications can be managed. But, disasters can occur, and if you're that one, any benefit of surgery is lost," Wolfe said.

Cost is another issue. A weight-loss surgery may cost $20,000 and up, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And, insurance may or may not pay for the procedure, as there isn't yet clear evidence of a long-term benefit for people who are less obese.

"There are a whole host of contributing factors to consider. At some point, the surgery will be identified to work best in some and not so well in others. We understand this in cancer treatment, and we want to be able to do the same thing with weight loss surgery, and this is a part of the process to get there," Wolfe said.

So, what should folks with lower-level obesity and type 2 diabetes do? Wolfe said to start with making a concerted effort to lose weight and exercise regularly, and to make sure you use any diabetes medications prescribed for you exactly as your physician directs you to.

"If this doesn't work, consider surgery. If you have risk factors, like diabetes, you can appeal a negative insurance decision and ask for an exception," he suggested.

Maggard-Gibbons also suggested talking to your doctor or a bariatric surgeon about the possibility of enrolling in a clinical trial.

1|2

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article