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Health Beat: Bariatric surgery for diabetes

Published On: Jul 24 2014 12:55:55 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 24 2014 05:45:42 PM EDT

For years, we've heard about weight loss surgery and its effect on diabetes. Now, a new study is showing how well the popular surgery is working to stop this serious disease.


For most of his life, Tim Feree was overweight, tired and frustrated with his health, especially his type-two diabetes.

"I would check my blood sugar once or twice a day and take the pills and try to manage my diet," Feree said.

But nothing worked until Feree tried gastric bypass surgery.


"By losing the weight, the patient's insulin resistance decreases and this results in a very rapid improvement in their blood sugar," said Philip Schauer, director of Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Schauer said gastric bypass also has an effect on a patient's hormones, which stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.

"I have many patients who come to surgery who are on 100 units of insulin a day, and before they leave the hospital, they are off all their insulin for the rest of their life," Schauer explained.

A recent study found just five to 10 percent of patients who had bariatric surgery required insulin compared to 55 percent who received standard care. The surgery group also needed less blood pressure and cholesterol medications.

For Feree, who said goodbye to insulin and his other medications, it's a weight loss surgery that does much more.

"The day of surgery, I weighed 263 pounds. Today, I weigh about 195," Feree said. "For me, the surgery has been miraculous. It really has been."

A recent study that appeared in the journal Diabetes Care found for the first time that bariatric surgery can also improve type-one diabetes, with some patients reducing their insulin intake by more than 60 percent.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor