Weight loss (bariatric) surgery could help reduce the risk of some diabetes complications in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
A new Swedish study has shown that operations which reduce the size of the stomach helps to lower the risk of microvascular complications (relating to small blood vessels) such as diabetic retinopathy (eye disease) and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).
Speaking to Endocrine Today, Dr Lena Carlsso, from the Institute of Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Swede, said: “Bariatric surgery prevents microvascular complications in obese patients with a glucose status ranging from normal to established type 2 diabetes, and the greatest reduction is obtained in those with prediabetes.
“In obese patients with prediabetes, bariatric surgery prevented microvascular complications in those that remained free from diabetes, indicating that long-term exposure to slightly elevated blood glucose levels (below the cutoff for diabetes) is harmful.”
Just over 4,000 people aged between 37 and 60 took part in the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study between 1987 and 2001. They were split into four groups, so researchers could compare their findings.
One group had normal glucose tolerance, another group had prediabetes, the third batch of people had established type 2 diabetes and the fourth included those who had received surgery.
All participants had their blood sugar levels and bloods checked at various follow-up appointments.
In the surgery group, 265 people had a gastric bypass operatio, which changes how the body absorbs food. This operation was performed on 376 people, while 1,369 underwent vertical-banded gastroplasty, also known as stomach stapling.
The findings showed there were 224 microvascular diseases recorded in the surgery group and 374 in the control group.
The researchers wrote: “Overall, one incidence of microvascular disease was prevented for every 22 patients who underwent surgery over 10 years.
Dr Carlsson added: “We need new, effective nonsurgical treatments for prediabetes. Our research shows that prediabetes is a serious condition that should be treated, and that this can be done by bariatric surgery. However, it is not possible or desirable to operate all obese patients with prediabetes.”
The study has been published in The Lancet.
Editor’s note: Bariatric surgery can carry a number of risks and side effects, but our Low Carb Program, which encourages eating healthily, helps people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes to lose weight and improve their blood glucose levels without any of these side effects.

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