Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects the way your body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin in order to turn glucose from the food you eat into energy. If the pancreas do not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body not respond properly to the insulin produced, the sugar builds up in your blood, causing many complications.

Diabetes affects around 200 million people worldwide, and diabetes-related death is expected to increase by >50% in the next 10 years. These numbers show that diabetes will be an important global health problem next years.

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of this type of diabetes is not known. Patients with type 1 diabetes will require insulin to lower and control blood glucose.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by ineffective use of insulin by the body. It accounts for 90% of those with diabetes, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. This diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but weight problems cause troubles controlling the disease with drugs and lifestyle changes.

Recent researches demonstrate Type 2 Diabetes can be treated efficiently by applying “surgical techniques for obesity”, appropriately modified.

Weight Loss Surgery to treat Diabetes

Evidence collected over years of bariatric surgery demonstrates the effectiveness and durability of diabetes control gained after Gastric bypass and Gastric sleeve surgeries. A recent research found that 30% of people with type 2 diabetes were in remission 15 years after a weight loss surgery, compared to 7% whose diabetes was managed with drugs and lifestyle changes.

There are different surgical procedures to lose weight, but the most common are:

Gastric bypass

The gastric bypass consists in reducing and restricting the absorption of foods by reducing the size of the stomach. The surgeon makes a small stomach pouch by dividing the top of the stomach from the rest of it. This way the food skips part of the stomach and small intestine, cutting off the digestion and reducing the calorie absorption of the foods. Due to the reduced size of the stomach, the amount of food the patient can manage to consume is also reduced.

Gastric sleeve

The gastric sleeve consists in reducing the size of the stomach to limit its capacity, removing part of the stomach. Through small incisions made with staples two completely separate parts of the stomach are made: the new gastric sleeve stomach, and in tube form, and more reduced, the other section of the stomach, free of the abdominal cavity, which will be removed. Through this, a substantial amount of the stomachs capacity is reduced, limiting the amount the patient can consume, without manipulating the digestive process.


This surgery somehow changes the body’s metabolism and calms diabetes in certain people. It helps control blood sugar levels in the long term, even to the point of not needing insulin anymore.

By one hand, patients who undergo this procedure and follow the advice diet after surgery, suffer significant weight loss resulting a better disease control. Furthermore, anatomical changes the surgery results in the stomach and intestine mechanisms involving changes controlling the blood glucose concentration. This results in rapid time improved diabetes control soon after surgery, even before you have lost a significant amount of weight.

Candidates for diabetes surgery

Diabetes surgery could be a life-saver for certain obese people with diabetes, but it is not a treatment for everyone. Good candidates for diabetes surgery are people who:

  • Patients with a Body Mass Index higher than 35 kg/m2 whatever they are receiving treatment for diabetes.
  • Patients with a Body Mass Index between 30 and 35 kg/m2 with difficulties to control properly there type 2 diabetes with conventional treatments.

Even among people with type 2 diabetes who are good candidates, surgery should not become the first treatment they try. A specialist diabetes surgeon can advise you.