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Diabetes Health Center

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How Weight Loss Surgery Helps Type 2 Diabetes

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Weight loss surgery can make a big difference for people with type 2 diabetes. For some people, blood sugar levels get back to normal fast -- sometimes days after surgery. That could mean you need less medication or none at all.

Research shows improvements in type 2 diabetes after weight loss surgery. One long-term study tracked 400 people with type 2 diabetes. Six years after bariatric surgery, 62% showed no signs of diabetes. They also had better blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

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In comparison, only 6% to 8% of people who took medicine, but didn’t have surgery, showed similar results.

If you’re thinking about it, and you’re ready to make big changes to keep up the results, you’ll want to know if it’s right for you.

Are You a Good Candidate?

First, your doctor will consider two things:

  1. Is your BMI 35 or higher?
  2. Have you tried to lose weight and keep it off without success?

If so, he will give you a detailed checkup and ask you questions to see if you are physically and emotionally ready for the operation and the major changes you'll need to make. (You'll need to eat a lot less and make a healthy diet and exercise part of your life forever.)

Depending on your particular case, other doctors may also get involved. For instance, if you have heart disease, your cardiologist would need to approve you for surgery.

Types of Weight Loss Surgery

There are different kinds of operations. Some help you lose weight by shrinking the size of your stomach so you feel full after small meals. Others change the way your body absorbs calories, nutrients, and vitamins. Still others do both.

Get to know what’s involved with each of these:

1. Gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass)

The surgeon makes a small stomach pouch by dividing the top of the stomach from the rest of it. When you eat, food goes to the small pouch and bypasses the top of the small intestine. The result: You get full faster and absorb fewer calories and nutrients.

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