Diabetes and bariatric surgery: What you should know

heavyset maleNovember is National Diabetes Month, a time for bringing attention to the epidemic of diabetes and the various causes and treatments associated with it.

The majority of treatments for diabetes are associated with managing the chronic condition, such as medications and insulin injections. But for many, there is a long-term solution.

For those patients struggling with diabetes related to their weight, bariatric surgery is an option to consider, as the procedure is a remedy for many patient's diabetes.

"The benefits of bariatric surgery go beyond weight loss," said Stephanie Auch, coordinator of the Bariatric Surgery Institute at McLaren Macomb. "Nearly all of our patients have been living with conditions associated with their weight, including diabetes, and in losing that weight, they can also lose these comorbidities."

Auch was a bariatric patient herself and has firsthand experience of its many benefits.

Bariatric surgery, though mainly associated with weight loss, has lesser known benefits of long-term positive effects on a number of chronic conditions.

When it comes to diabetes, the effect can be immediate. After bariatric surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced, lessening the number of calories the patient takes in, which in turn requires less insulin to regulate blood sugar.

As time passes, the patient continues to lose weight. It was the weight around the midsection that had previously hindered pancreatic function and the production of insulin. But with weight loss, function increases.

A growing national epidemic, the number of obese Americans has increased. This includes the younger population, putting them at an increased risk for diabetes.

"Obesity is a condition that continues to affect more and more people, and with it now becoming a growing issue among children, the rate of diabetes and other obesity-related chronic conditions increases as well," Auch said.

Bariatric surgery can also benefit patients who suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea, and also lower one's risk for stroke and heart disease.

To learn more about minimally invasive options at the Bariatric Surgery Institute at McLaren Macomb, visit mclaren.org/macombbariatrics.

Risk factors for diabetes
Overweight or obese
High blood pressure
Not physically active
Family history
Ethnicity (African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos are at a greater risk)
History of heart disease or stroke