Q&A Topic: Bariatric Surgery to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

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Amanda Messina, MD, FACS

Q. What is Type 2 Diabetes?

A. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects nearly 27 million people in the United States. Another 86 million are pre-diabetic, which means their blood glucose is not normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetic. Normally, your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin which acts as a key to unlock the doors to your cells, where food is then turned into fuel for your body. However, insulin doesn’t work properly in people with type 2 diabetes. Without working insulin, glucose is locked out of your cells and stays in your blood stream – resulting in high blood sugar and diabetes.

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Q. What’s behind the rising rates of Type 2 Diabetes?

A. With obesity on the rise, it’s no surprise that more and more people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Obesity and lack of physical activity are the biggest drivers of this disease – 90 percent of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. If you’re obese, you are three times more likely to develop the disease than those who are not.

Q. What impact does type 2 diabetes have on a patient?

A. When glucose builds up in the blood – especially over the years – it can cause serious damage to virtually every organ in the body. Patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes may experience complications such as neuropathy or damaged nerves, heart disease, kidney disease and retinopathy or damaged vision.

Q. How is type 2 diabetes treated?

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A. Many patients with type 2 diabetes will initially consult with their internal medicine doctor or endocrinologist who will recommend lifestyle changes – a special weight loss diet and regular exercise regimen – and medication as the first line of treatment. The majority of patients who make these lifestyle changes are able to manage their diabetes.

Q. If diet, exercise, and medications do not result in proper management of my type 2 diabetes, what is the best option?

A. When lifestyle changes and medications do not work and you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 35 and 40 and you have type 2 diabetes, you may qualify for bariatric surgery — the gastric sleeve (also known as the sleeve gastrectomy), the duodenal switch, or the gastric bypass. All three gastric bypass surgeries can improve type 2 diabetes. After bariatric surgery, 90 percent of patients see an improvement in their type 2 diabetes through weight loss that results in lower blood sugar, reduced dosage and type of medication required, and improved diabetes-related health problems. In addition, bariatric surgery causes type 2 diabetes to go into remission in up to 70 percent of patients whose blood levels return to normal levels, eliminating the need for diabetes medications.

Learn More About Dr. Messina
Chief of General Surgery and Bariatric Surgeon
Northern Westchester Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.

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Read Past Topics from Dr. Messina:
Hernia Repair Methods and Recovery


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