YOUR HEALTH: Could surgery stop diabetes?

CLEVELAND – New research shows a well-known procedure for weight loss may be the best bet for patients with uncontrolled diabetes.

Diabetes can be deadly.

Each year, more than 70,000 Americans die from complications of the disease.  About half of all people with type two diabetes don`t have their condition under control.

That best describes Lisa Shaffer.  At her heaviest she weighed almost 300 pounds.

"When I was obese, your life was so limited," she said.

Her health suffered, too.  Lisa had type two diabetes and she tried everything to control it.

"Nothing worked, nope."

But today Lisa is 120 pounds lighter and her diabetes is gone.  The reason: gastric bypass surgery.

"It's been incredible," she explained.   "It really did give me my life back."

Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Philip Schauer led a study that compared bariatric surgery, either gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, to intense medical therapy in people with diabetes.

After five years, the gastric bypass patients did the best.  Many were in complete remission without drugs or insulin.

"Which is pretty remarkable," said Dr. Schauer who is head of the Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.

"That's about as close to a cure that you can get."

29% of gastric bypass and 23% of gastric sleeve patients achieved and maintained normal blood sugar levels compared to just five percent of medication-only patients.

The surgery groups also lost more weight and reported a better quality of life.

"All in all, the patients who had surgery did better and were happier at the five year mark," Dr. Schauer remarked.

Three days after her surgery, Lisa was off all of her meds.  Her A1C, a measure of blood sugar control, was 10.5 before the surgery and today it's 5.3.

Now she's able to live the life she's always wanted.

"Ever since I lost the weight, I've run three 5-Ks," said Schaffer.

"I've done zip lining with the family, which is fantastic.  Just no limits anymore, there's no limitations on my life anymore."

Dr. Schauer also led a study that compared bariatric surgery, either gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, to intense medical therapy in people with diabetes.  After five years, the gastric bypass patients did the best.  Many were in complete remission without drugs or insulin.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Bariatric surgery can allow for some people`s blood sugar levels to get back to normal. This in turn may result in curing their diabetes, or at the very least leading to a patient taking less medication. A long term study showed that six years after bariatric surgery, 62 percent of the 400 patients in the study reported no signs of diabetes. Good candidates for this type of surgery are those with a BMI of 35 or higher, and those with little to no success at losing weight. There are five types of bariatric surgery that are gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, biliopancreatic diversion, an electric implant device, and an adjustable gastric band. However, the gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y) has up to 80 percent of people showing no signs of diabetes after surgery. For this procedure the surgeon makes a small stomach pouch by splitting the top of the stomach from the rest. Therefore, the food goes into the small stomach pouch making the patient fuller faster, and absorbing fewer calories. However, one risk may include less absorption of vitamins and nutrients and may lead to health problems. After the surgery, it is important to still stick to a diet and exercise plan to keep the weight off.
(Source: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/weight-loss-surgery-and-type-2-diabetes#2 )

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.comor Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.