Gastric bypass surgery help improve health for patients with type 2 diabetes but the surgical procedure is no cure for the metabolic disease, according to new US research.
Experts at the Seattle-based Group Health Research Institute examined over 4,400 obese adults with type 2 diabetes, all of whom were candidates for bariatric (weight loss) surgery, over a 14-year period.
They found that in two-thirds of patients, gastric bypass surgery initially reversed their type 2 diabetes. But for more than a third of these patients, the disease re-developed within five years of undergoing the surgical procedure.
After adding in the patients whose diabetes never remitted after surgery, the researchers discovered that more than half (56 per cent) of all the study participants had no long-lasting remission of their type 2 diabetes following gastric surgery .
Principal investigator Dr David Arterbur, a general internist and associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute, said: “Our study is the first major evidence that diabetes often recurs after gastric bypass surgery.”
Exactly what causes the re-development of type 2 diabetes following weight loss surgery is not clear, although the researchers confirmed that patients’ weight – before and after surgery – was not strongly linked with either remission or relapse of the disease in this population.
Dr Arterburn added: “Gastric surgery isn’t for everyone. But this evidence suggests that, once you have diabetes and are severely obese, you should strongly consider it, even though it doesn’t seem to be a cure for most patients.”
The research is published in the journal Obesity Surgery .

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