The study published in the online edition of the New England Journal Medicine found most bariatric surgery patients were able to discontinue all diabetes medications and maintain disease remission during the two-year study period. None of those randomly assigned to receive standard medical treatment for diabetes was able to stop medication.
"Although bariatric surgery was initially conceived as a treatment for weight loss, it is now clear that surgery is an excellent approach for the treatment of diabetes and metabolic disease," senior author Dr. Francesco Rubino, director of the Metabolic and Diabetes Surgery Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and associate professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, said in a statement.
Rubino and colleagues at the Catholic University/Policlinico Gemelli in Rome evaluated remission of diabetes in 60 severely obese patients ages 30 to 60 with advanced diabetes and a body mass index greater than 35.
Patients were randomly assigned to three groups: one group underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a second group had bilopancreatic diversion and the third group received conventional individualized medication and rigorously monitored dietary and lifestyle modification.
"These findings confirm that the effects of bariatric surgery on type 2 diabetes may be attributed to the mechanisms of surgery rather than the consequences of weight loss," Mingrone said in a statement. "Studying the actual mechanisms by which surgery improves diabetes may help understand the disease better."