Content provided by: Can This Surgery Cure Diabetes? After weight-loss surgery, the condition appears to go away. by Dr. Ranit Mishori, PARADE Several times a month I find myself delivering bad news to a patient: “You have diabetes.” The follow-up isn’t much better. The patient asks how to make it go away, and my response, often with a wistful sigh, is: “Right now, there’s nothing.” But that’s not quite the case any longer. Evidence is accumulating that bariatric surgery—an extreme measure for the very obese that involves reducing the size of the stomach to promote weight loss—may “cure” diabetes. Bing:Weight loss surgery gone bad I use the word “cure” with caution, because diabetes is complex, and the approach requires more research. But the results are promising enough that a recent International Diabetes Surgery Task Force summit in Italy issued a first-of-its-kind consensus statement pronouncing bariatric surgery to be a “legitimate approach” for diabetes treatment. “Many patients undergoing surgically induced weight loss appear to have a form of lasting remission of their diabetes,” Dr. Jonathan Purnell, an endocrinologist at Oregon Health & Science University, writes in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The change happens quickly. And according to Annals of Surgery, diabetes “typically resolves within days to weeks of surgery—even before patients have lost much weight.” Doctors are not sure exactly why the surgery works. The task force raised the possibility that the “rearrangement of the anatomy” might have a beneficial effect on certain hormones. Dr. Purnell suggests that excluding certain nutrients from the gut might change how the body reacts to insulin. [5 Common Myths About Diabetes] You can’t currently request bariatric surgery solely as a treatment for diabetes. With weight loss as its goal, it’s available only to the severely obese—those with a body-mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher. But the task force asserts that for “carefully selected patients” within this group who also have uncontrolled diabetes, bariatric surgery may be the way to go. Further, it recommends lowering the BMI requirement when severe and uncontrolled diabetes is involved, to allow people with mild-to-moderate obesity (in the 30 to 35 BMI range), to get the surgery as well. Remember, diabetes can be managed medically, while bariatric surgery is an irreversible procedure that, as with any surgery, comes with its share of risks and complications. However, according to Purnell’s JAMA article, the risk of death from bariatric surgery is lower than from diabetes managed by traditional therapies. [Famous Faces Share Their Diabetes Stories] These findings will raise notice among diabetics who struggle with daily pinpricks, insulin, and restricted diets. “Not all eligible patients will opt for it,” Purnell says, “but they should at least be given the option.” Talk with your doctor if you think this surgery may be for you.