Pros and cons of gastric bypass for diabetes

A new study shows that gastric bypass surgery may not only help combat obesity, but it could also reduce risk factors that lead to diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that mild to moderately obese patients with type 2 diabetes had better improvements in blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol after having gastric bypass surgery than patients who had adopted lifestyle changes along with medical counseling.

Fewer medications, more weight lost

Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure that involves shrinking the size of the stomach by stapling a section off to create a smaller pouch. The new, smaller stomach is reattached to the small intestine, and food bypasses the majority of the stomach and the upper section of the small intestine.

In the study, researchers looked at 120 patients who were divided either into the gastric bypass group or the lifestyle changes group. Results showed that the gastric bypass group lost about 26.1 percent of their body weight within a year, while the lifestyle group lost about 7.9 percent of their initial weight.

Moreover, the gastric bypass group took fewer medications to control diabetes risk factors and still ended up showing better health outcomes where blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol were concerned.

Nutritional deficiencies

However, gastric bypass surgery is not 100 percent without problems, the researchers caution. Participants in the surgery group had more nutritional problems than the lifestyle group: 22 cases of serious complications due to nutritional deficiencies were reported in the gastric bypass patients.

"Bariatric surgery for diabetic people who are not severely obese has shown promising results in controlling glucose," Dr. Melinda Maggard-Gibbons, the study's lead author and a surgeon at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a press release. "However, we need more information about the long-term benefits and risks before recommending bariatric surgery over non-surgical weight-loss treatment for these individuals."

Source: University of Minnesota

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