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Jun 23, 2014

Weight Loss Surgery Considered a 'Useful' Treatment for Diabetes

Weight loss surgery helps obese patients manage diabetes better than traditional therapies alone, according to study.

Weight loss surgery helps obese patients manage diabetes better than traditional therapies alone, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This study analyzed long-term findings of the STAMPEDE trial (Surgical Treatment and Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently), designed to test the safety and efficacy of weight loss surgery as a treatment for diabetes. One-year results of the trial were promising but researchers wondered how patients would fare years down the road. Will patients keep off the weight years later and will they have better control of their condition? Are there any safety concerns that crop up years after surgery?

When the STAMPEDE trial began in 2007, a total of 150 obese patients with diabetes enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to receive weight loss surgery plus traditional diabetes therapies or traditional therapies, alone. Two types of weight loss surgery were put to the test, including gastric bypass and the less invasive procedure called sleeve gastrectomy.

After following patients for three years, researchers concluded that long-term results were as encouraging as initial findings. Not only did patients receiving weight loss surgery have better blood sugar control than those receiving standard therapy alone, surgical patients weighed significantly less and used fewer glucose medications. Also, questionnaires showed that patients undergoing weight loss surgery had better quality of life compared to patients who didn’t have surgery. And importantly, there were no major surgical complications that occurred in the three years following weight loss surgery.

Based on these findings, authors believe that weight loss surgery is a potentially useful strategy for the management of type 2 diabetes. Through weight loss surgery, obese patients with diabetes were able to manage their condition better than they could have with standard treatment, alone. In fact, some patients had complete diabetes remission with weight loss surgery, which means they eventually had no signs or symptoms of the condition. The question now is whether weight loss surgery can help obese patients with diabetes live longer, healthier lives, which authors hope to achieve with larger future clinical trials.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are the different types of weight loss surgery?
  • The goal of weight loss surgery is to limit the amount of food that you can ingest and/or digest. The most common types of weight loss surgery include gastric bypass, gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy. Some types of weight loss procedures are less invasive than others and which type of surgery is best depends on each patient’s specific situation.
  • Is weight loss surgery safe?
  • As with all medical procedures, weight loss surgery carries certain risks and for some patients, doesn't always work as well as they might have hoped. If you’re considering weight loss surgery, it’s important to discuss all the pros and cons of treatment with your doctor.

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