How can diabetes be cured with surgery?

Almost all patients with type II diabetes are overweight, often in combination with other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood fat levels.

Operations that treat morbid obesity, such as laparoscopic gastric bypass or laparoscopic tubular stomach, bring changes in the metabolic system that can really lead to a lasting cure for diabetes.

How does the procedure work exactly?

The operations are carried out in a minimally invasive way. In a tube stomach, most of the stomach is removed. In gastric bypass, a small stomach pouch is connected directly to the small intestine. Most of the actual stomach and about one to two metres of the small intestine are “bypassed” here.

What influence does the operation have on the blood sugar level?

Due to the faster passage of food into the small intestine, hormonal changes take place which start relatively quickly after the operation (before much more weight is lost) and lower the blood sugar level.

Which diabetics can benefit from this operation?

Type II diabetics with morbid obesity benefit from this operation, especially if the diagnosis was made less than 7 years ago. For patients diagnosed with diabetes for more than 7 years, surgery can significantly reduce medication use, but a complete cure is rare.

What are the risks of this surgical treatment?

In 2018, these operations are just as safe as a laparoscopic gall bladder removal, uterus surgery or hip replacement implantation. The risks are even lower in a specialised centre than in hospitals with a smaller number of corresponding treatments.

What is the success rate of this method?

Diabetes therapy today is a multi-modal therapy. This means that usually between two and four medicines are taken in combination. Surgical therapy can cure the disease in 80 percent of patients diagnosed less than 7 years ago, and significantly reduce symptoms in the others. The beauty of this method is that an improvement in the situation is achieved in 95 percent of patients.

What are the advantages of metabolic surgery compared to insulin therapy?

Insulin therapy is only used in advanced diabetes and is not always easy for the patient to control. Hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia are possible. Ultimately, the quality of life suffers from these fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Through the operation, the therapy can be reduced almost abruptly, ideally even stopped completely.

What can patients expect from the Centre for Bariatric Surgery?

After referral by the general practitioner, the patients are first extensively clarified and appropriate preliminary examinations are arranged. With nutritionists and internists, the current therapy is documented and occasionally optimised in consultation with the family doctor or endocrinologist. For overweight diabetics who are increasingly suffering from their disease and would like to lead a life without medication, surgery is the therapy of choice. It is best not to wait until the disease has a progressive course.

More information on surgery for diabetes and obesity at www.zfbc.ch.