"Our study contributes to mounting evidence that demonstrates gastric banding can have a sustained and meaningful effect on diabetes and morbid obesity and that the two diseases are interrelated," senior study author Dr. Christine Ren, an associate professor of surgery at New York University School of Medicine, said in the news release.
The patients also lost substantial weight -- their mean BMI dropped from 46 to 35. Study participants had diabetes an average of 6.5 years prior to surgery, the researchers said.
Studies such as these are good news for people with morbid obesity, many of whom have tried and failed to lose weight without surgery, said Dr. Scott Shikora, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
"For people who have type 2 diabetes related to their weight, other than bariatric surgery, there are no other treatments that put diabetes into remission," Shikora said.
Yet some patients, their families and even physicians fear bariatric surgery, remembering some highly publicized complications and deaths during the procedure's early days, Shikora said.
"The field has dramatically improved and is much more advanced than it was 20 years ago," Shikora said.
Shikora and DeMaria lay credit for that improvement on the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Centers of Excellence program, which sets standards for training and patient care at the 350 hospitals and for the 650 surgeons granted the status.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on bariatric surgery.
SOURCES: Eric J. DeMaria, M.D., vice chair, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; James W. Maher, M.D., professor of surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; Scott Shikora, M.D., president, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Gainesville, Fla.; June 24, 2009, study presentations, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery annual meeting, Grapevine, Texas