A Cleveland Clinic study found that gastric bypass surgery can restore function of the pancreas and put diabetes in remission almost immediately.
Endocrinologist Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, led the study. She says the results are “stunning” and offer hope to people struggling with both diabetes and weight gain.
The pancreas provides the body with insulin. If we gain weight, the pancreas has to work harder. If we keep gaining weight, eventually the pancreas loses its ability to supply enough insulin and the result is diabetes.
Pancreas begins making insulin again
Dr. Kashyap and her researchers did a randomized study of 60 people with diabetes. One third had gastric bypass surgery, one third had a modified version called sleeve gastrectomy and the other underwent intensive medical therapy.
After following them for two years, Dr. Kashyap and her researchers found the gastric bypass procedure not only took off weight, but the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin increased five-fold. A hormone change in the gut, caused by the bypass, triggers the pancreas to make insulin again.
“This is not something we see to this extent with medication or any other therapy,” says Dr. Kashyap. “This is a stunning finding. The gastric bypass restored normal blood sugar control, especially normal blood sugars after ingestion of a meal. It really restored the pancreatic function.”
This effect wasn’t found in the other subjects who did not have the gastric bypass procedure.
Why the results are so important
People with diabetes on glucose-lowering drugs and insulin may have a difficult time losing weight. Because of the drugs, many gain it. Gastric bypass surgery can be an option for those unable to control their weight gain and diabetes through any other means.
Prevention is, as ever, the key. “Appropriate diet and exercise are the right ways to prevent diabetes, and prevention is always the best,” says Dr. Kashyap.
But for those who have diabetes weight loss is critical, and this study brings good news and fresh hope.
What this means for you
Patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 may be eligible or those with a body mass index above 35 with other complications related to their obesity may qualify for various bariatric procedures, says Dr. Kashyap. Discuss this option with your doctor for the complete risk and benefit profile.