A new study finds that bariatric (weight loss) surgery led to prolonged remission in half of patients with type 2 diabetes for at least five years.
The trial, conducted by researchers from King’s College London and the University Cattolica in Romen, tracked five-year outcomes of 53 obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
Patients randomly underwent one of two types of bariatric surgery – gastric bypass and biliopancreatic – or continued with conventional medical therapy to control their type 2 diabetes.
The study initially involved 60 patients. 20 underwent gastric bypass surgery, 20 underwent biliopancreatic diversion and the other 20 maintained standard drug therapy. 53 of the patients completed the study.
Both gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion surgery involves reducing the stomach sizes of patients and leaving less of the intestines exposed to food.
Half of the 40 patients who received bariatric surgery maintained remission from diabetes after five years. Remission meant that they no longer needed to take diabetes medication to keep their blood glucose levels stable.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of surgery patients maintained optimal blood glucose control despite only taking one anti-diabetes medication or nothing at all, according to Professor Francesco Rubino.
None of the 15 participants in the drug treatment group achieved remissio, while patients in the surgery group still tended to have reduced blood glucose levels and used fewer diabetes and heart medications.
“Treating surgically, rather than medical therapy, appears more cost-effective, as there is less use of medication,” said Rubino, who added that the results were “remarkable”.
Long-term benefits
The researchers observed that some patients relapsed in the final three years of the study, and that results in regard to diabetes remission were more successful in the two years after surgery.
While gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion surgery have high success rates, there are a number of health risks associated with the procedures. Patients frequently need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of their lives as a direct consequence of the effects of surgery.
Earlier this year, an Israeli study reported their doubts over the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery. This was due to weight loss and remission rates declining in patients over time.
Lead researcher of this study, Dr. Keidar, highlighted that lifestyle changes are essential following weight loss surgery. Rubino also added that continual monitoring of blood sugar levels was required following the operatio, to ensure that patients do not exit remission.
In November 2014, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NHS) advised that with obesity-related type 2 diabetes.

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