Gastric bypass surgery for weight loss has become widely accepted for improving the health of obese people. But for the obese patient with Diabetes, there’s another reason to consider the surgery: in addition to weight loss, a gastric bypass usually sends Type 2 Diabetes into permanent remission.
Dr. Matthew Weiner performs gastric bypass surgery at DMC Harper University Hospital, and has seen the result first-hand. “What we’ll see is patients enter the hospital on insulin, have their surgery, and in three or four days, as they’re being discharged, they’ve taken their last shot of insulin in their life.”
Dr. Weiner has more than a few patients who can attest to the success of his approach. Carol Teelander was nearly 300 pounds before seeing Dr. Weiner. Her quality of life was poor – unable to be active with her children, feeling trapped at home – a self-described couch potato. And along with her weight problem, she suffered from diabetes. “Before surgery, I was taking 200 units of insulin a day,” says carol. “And I’m only taking a pill form once a day now. The plan is to be totally off the medication within the next few months after losing more weight.”
Carmela Pulis, another of Dr. Weiner’s patients, explains why she sought his help. “It was a shock when I was told I had diabetes. I tried everything my doctor recommended, diets, drugs, and found it very hard to lose weight.” Carmela heard from others who has the surgery, and decided to try it herself.
Gastric bypass surgery at the DMC is performed as a minimally invasive procedure, using several small abdominal incisions. The surgeon inserts instruments and a tiny camera and divides the stomach, creating a new, smaller stomach from a portion of the original. Then, this new small stomach is connected to the digestive track, bypassing a portion of the small intestine. It’s this bypass that seems to have the positive impact on diabetes.
For reasons still not fully understood, that alteration in the intestine has a profound effect on a diabetic’s ability to manage blood sugar. Coupled with weight loss, obese diabetics are frequently being cured of their disease.
“We’re starting to understand that gastric bypass patients with diabetes are showing dramatic differences from those who manage the diabetes with medications and insulin,” says Dr. Weiner. “Many of them are showing a complete resolution with no health problems whatsoever, whereas the medically managed patients are going to have kidney disease, glaucoma, peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease.”
The use of surgery for non-obese diabetics is something now under study at the DMC. But for today, this surgery can be a lifesaver for obese diabetics. Carol’s father recently died of diabetes-related issues, and she did not want to go down that path. “I want to lead a long, healthy life. I feel excellent. I have more energy. I love my life now. I’m able to love my children and love the things that I do. Things are so positive now; it’s made a big difference in my marriage.”
Carmela too, sees a dramatic improvement in her quality of life. She feels better, health-wise and stopped taking insulin the day she was released from the hospital.
Visit us here at DMC.org if you’d like to schedule an appointment with any of our weight loss surgeons, or learn more about minimally invasive gastric bypass surgery.
Learn More about/Request an Appointment With Dr. Matthew Weiner.