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Can Gastric Bypass Surgery Cure Diabetes?

I have type 2 diabetes. I know that exercise and weight loss can help, but I've struggled for years to lose any weight. I've been considering gastric bypass surgery because I've heard that, in addition to helping with weight loss, it can cure diabetes. Is this true?

Answer

Gastric bypass surgery, also called bariatric surgery, often results in significant weight loss, with most people losing 65 percent to 80 percent of excess body weight. Weight loss alone can improve type 2 diabetes by decreasing appetite and insulin resistance.
 
However, those with type 2 diabetes who have gastric bypass surgery may do even better than those who lose the same amount of weight without surgery. Often, blood sugar is improved only a few days to weeks after surgery, before any significant weight loss has occurred. Why this happens is not clear, although research has suggested some reasons.
 
Most people who have had gastric bypass surgery start producing more insulin after surgery. This may be because the body is better able to signal that insulin is needed. When food is eaten, the stomach produces hormones that signal the pancreas to begin making insulin. People with diabetes often do not produce enough of these hormones, so less insulin is made and blood sugar goes up.
 
Gastric bypass surgery can cause an increase in the production of these hormones, so more insulin is produced sooner after food is eaten. Insulin resistance is also reduced, so the insulin that is made is no longer ignored by the cells. Long-term improvement seems to also depend on losing weight and keeping it off. Those who gain back weight may experience high blood sugar once again.
 
There are several different ways that gastric bypass is performed, and research suggests that the effect of the surgery on type 2 diabetes may differ based on the type of surgery. Surgeries that actually bypass the upper gastrointestinal system (for example, roux-en-Y) produce more immediate effects, while restrictive surgeries (gastric banding) improve diabetes through weight loss over time.
 
Gastric bypass surgery is a complicated procedure and can result in serious side effects and long-term complications. The benefits and risks should be carefully discussed with your healthcare providers.
 
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