Woman With Diabetes Gains 85 Pounds to be Eligible for Gastric Bypass


"A gastric bypass can induce changes in gastrointestinal hormones because as a result of the surgery, the hormones get redirected through the gastrointestinal tract," said Clements.

"The hormonal effects cause diabetics to go into remission, though the mechanism of that is unknown," said De La Cruz-Munoz.

Because of the hormonal effects and the weight loss, for many obese diabetics, a gastric bypass offers double benefits.

Gastric bands can also help diabetics because they lead to significant weight loss, but there's no hormonal effect.

"The band only works by placing a restriction around the upper part of the stomach," said Clements. "You don't get the immediate effect of rerouting the bowels and redirecting hormones."

Recognition of Benefits on the Rise

Surgeons say there's more awareness of the benefits that bariatric surgery can offer people with weight-related problems. Just last month, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel voted in favor of lowering the eligibility limit for lap band procedures to a BMI of 30 for those with conditions like diabetes and 35 for those with no weight-related problems.

"I think absolutely the BMI limits for diabetics are going to be lowered," said Khalili.

"If we're talking about gastric bypass, we would be doing it for metabolic reasons in addition to weight loss," said Clements.

They also say insurance companies may soon be more willing to pay for bariatric surgery given the benefits it provides.

"Multiple studies have shown weight loss surgery to be cost-effective over a period of 18 to 24 months," said Khalili. "Insurance companies recoup the cost within two years."

Blair's insurance company paid for her surgery because of her diabetes, but she said if she had to, she would have paid for it out of of her own pocket. She said it's far cheaper to pay for the surgery than it is to pay for years of diabetes drugs.

"The surgery is cheaper than medications and complications related to diabetes," she said.

Blair said she is thrilled with her medical progress. She's already lost about 50 pounds and may soon be off all her diabetes medications. She also says it's been easier to eat since the surgery than it was before.

"I can eat more normally than I have since I was diagnosed with diabetes," said Blair. "I can't eat a lot, but I can eat carbs without sending my blood sugar off the charts."

Although doctors say they absolutely do not recommend that patients intentionally gain weight, Blair says she has very different advice.

"I tell people that have type 2 diabetes that are the slightest bit chubby to not lose weight. They should gain it."

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