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Diabetes and gastric surgery

June 24, 2009 3:23:33 PM PDT
There is new information on the lasting effects on diabetes from weight loss surgery. It's known that diabetes can be reversed or lessened through surgery, but doctors now have some preliminary numbers on how long those effects might last.

Jim Farrar had a 52-inch waist prior to his gastric banding surgery in July 2007. Afterwards, he was 85 pounds lighter.

Jim had had diabetes for 19 years. The last four, he had been taking insulin through a pump attached to his body.

But now, he's off that.

"I no longer wear this insulin pump," he said. "I no longer take any insulin, as of last April."

Jim finally lost his weight through a weight loss surgery in which an adjustable gastric band was placed around his stomach.

"It's very import to see whether the effects that we see in the short term carry over to the long term," said Dr. Evan Nadler, a surgeon at the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Nadler and his colleagues studied 87 patients who had diabetes and went through the same procedure as Jim.

They found that after five years, diabetes was resolved in 25 percent and improved in 56 percent. Another weight loss procedure is gastric bypass surgery.

A study of 177 patients after five years found that diabetes was resolved in 89 patients early on, but recurred in 43 percent of them.

They conclude that maintaining the weight loss is important to keeping the diabetes resolved.

What diabetes patients can achieve through these surgeries continues to be the focus of studies throughout the country.

"These are both preliminary studies, and the numbers of patients in each study is small," Dr. Nadler said. "So we will be waiting for larger studies from different centers."

Doctors who perform these surgeries are meeting at their annual conference in Texas and presented these and many other studies.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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