Would You Undergo Surgery to Manage Diabetes?


A recent peer-reviewed study in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates that patients with diabetes who receive medical treatment (i.e. nutritional counseling and drug treatment) plus bariatric surgery (i.e. weight loss surgery) maintained better control of their diabetes and lost more weight than individuals receiving only medical treatment to manage diabetes.

Observational studies have suggested that bariatric surgery may reverse diabetes, yet randomized controlled trials (which are considered the ‘gold standard’ for determining new treatment recommendations) have been scarce.

Although more similar research is required, results of this study suggest that bariatric surgery procedures may be a feasible option for diabetes management, especially given the difficulty in managing diabetes with disease progression.

Bariatric surgery involves a decrease in the size of the stomach or bypassing a portion of the digestive system. These procedures are not without risk and complications. The success of these procedures beyond nine years is not well documented1 and it’s estimated that 52.9% of patients require re-operation as early as 2 years after their initial operation.  Additionally, bariatric surgery is costly and not readily available in Canada2.

What do you think? Would you be willing to undergo surgery to manage diabetes?


1. Lanthaler M, Aigner F, Kinzl J, et al. Long-term results and complications following adjustable gastric banding. Obes Surg. 2010;20: 1078-1085.

2. Christou NV, Efthimiou E. Bariatric surgery waiting times in Canada. Can J Surg. 2009;52: 229-234.


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