Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bariatric surgery as a cure for type 2 diabetes?

Today I saw the following article on The Washington Post, about bariatric surgery now being used as a cure for type 2 diabetes.

Bariatric surgery basically reduces the size of the stomach — and the length of the intestines. It is used as a "cure" for obesity, because it literally forces the person to eat less at meals — and since it bypasses part of the intestine, fewer calories are absorbed into the person's body.

Recently some doctors have been using it as a cure for type 2 diabetes, too. The surgery is offered as an option for type 2 diabetics who are obese and whose blood glucose levels are way out of control. Patients often find that their sugars become more controllable within days of the surgery.

I can't help but be a little skeptical about this. It seems to me like this makes it far too easy for a type 2 diabetic to say, "Well, losing weight and monitoring my sugars is too much work, so I'll just get surgery to correct the problem for me." Plus, you have to consider that by reducing the size of the digestive tract, you could actually be doing more harm than good — after all, our intestines are the length they are for a reson.

What are your thought on using bariatric surgery as a cure for type 2 diabetes?


Irreverent Freelancer said...

I agree that this is the easy -- and stupid -- way out. I've heard that this type of surgery has all kinds of potential complications, not the least of which is death. Essentially, you can no longer get all the vitamins and nutrition you need, so you start losing hair and I think acid reflux is also much more likely. The rapid weight-loss this procedure brings about also highly increases your chances of developing gallstones. Definitely not the quick-fix solution they make it out to be.

Katharine Swan said...


Thanks for the additional information on the potential complications of bariatric surgery. All of that makes perfect sense, making me wonder why anyone would think this was a good solution. If you're not getting the calories, of course you're not getting the nutrients, either!

Thanks for the input!