If you or a loved one suffers with type 2 diabetes, and tens of millions of Americans do, then it would serve you well to learn a little bit more about metabolic surgery. The data has been accumulating for many decades to the point where today, all the major diabetes and endocrine societies around the world recommend metabolic surgery as a primary treatment for type 2 diabetes. Why have these advisory groups moved from treatment solely based upon shots and pills to one that involves a surgical procedure as cornerstone therapy? The answer lies in the better safety profile with surgery.
Decades of Research
Metabolic surgery is the only treatment with a multi-decade track record of “curing,” or putting type 2 diabetes into long-term remission, for large portions of individuals under treatment. The procedure has become so safe, and so demonstrably effective, that many expert diabetologists recommend their patients consider metabolic surgery early during treatment. A 45-minute procedure with four Band-Aids that is safer than an appendectomy or C-section procedure deserves serious consideration if the chances of resolving the diabetes, putting it into long-term remission, are north of 70%. And those are the facts today. But the story does not end there.
How Does Metabolic Surgery Resolve Diabetes?
Metabolic surgery works through a number of mechanisms, but most people are only familiar with the weight loss aspect. The true magic comes from the profound and long-lasting change to key hormone levels that results from altering the tissues. We have learned that many of the primary hormones regulating blood sugar emanate from the stomach or intestinal tissues, where specialized endocrine secretory cells live. And while we have not been able to achieve long term changes in these hormones with medications, diets, or exercise, surgically altering the tissues makes a profound, long-lasting improvement in the hormone levels, the result of which is long-term lowered blood sugar.
But the good news does not end with simply correcting the blood sugar number. Even more importantly, metabolic surgery results in lowered risk of stroke, heart attack, neuropathy, kidney failure, blindness, and death. In treating diabetes, it is truly “safer with surgery.”
Increasingly, we see the science of hormonal change evolving and improving with greater understanding of metabolic surgery. Sleeve gastrectomy, or a gastric bypass procedure, alters the gastric hormone levels for the long term. And these hormone level improvements cause lowered fat storage in the liver, lowered body weight setpoint, and, of course, lowered blood sugar. Collectively, there may be quite a few beneficial side effects beyond the reduction of diabetes and blood sugar, namely, reductions of harmful triglycerides, and reduction of harmful fat storage in the liver.
Surgery continues to evolve and improve, becoming vastly safer and simpler in the last two decades. It also has led to breakthroughs in our scientific understanding of the key hormones associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For more information about surgery as the best option for type 2 diabetes, I invite you to read my book. For specific questions about whether bariatric surgery is an option for you, contact us today.