Weight loss with type 2 diabetes: Is surgery the answer?

Millions of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, many of whom need help with weight loss. Bariatric surgery may be appropriate for those with traditional severe obesity, but is surgery the best option for patients who struggle with type 2 diabetes and less severe weight issues?

Two recent papers and an editorial in the JAMA addressed the emerging topic, and the results were very encouraging. Nearly all of research participants who underwent gastric bypass saw clinical improvement, if not remission, of their type 2 diabetes.

These findings are important because epidemiological studies show that despite our best efforts to control diabetes, nearly half of adults who live with the disease struggle to achieve a level of control that reduces complications.

Surgical procedures are not without complications, and the idea of doing gastrointestinal surgery as primary treatment for diabetes requires more research to determine the long-term benefit. The research is very promising, however, and an increasing number of patients are seeking more information if not a procedure. Click here to find out more about surgical weight reduction research at OHSU.

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Bruce M. Wolfe, MD, Professor of Surgery, has devoted his surgical career to surgical nutrition and specifically obesity, including the surgical care of obese patients and related research. He serves as the co-chair of the National Institutes of Health research consortium on bariatric surgery.