"We may have a cure for diabetes," Santiago says. "So we need to ask how medical therapies and surgery can help each other in the treatment of diabetes."
Studies from several other countries show that surgery also results in remission of diabetes for people who are not morbidly obese. There is even discussion, particularly in other countries, of performing weight-loss surgery for people with Type 2 diabetes who are not overweight.
Not without risks
In the United States, weight-loss surgery is still largely viewed as a cosmetic procedure and obesity as a lifestyle issue, not a chronic disease. Moreover, weight-loss surgery carries risks. The death rate is about one per 200 operations and severe complications can occur, including blood clots, infections related to surgery, and the need for corrective surgery due to leaks at the staple lines.
Other complications include vitamin and mineral deficiencies, dehydration, gallstones, kidney stones, hernia and low blood sugar.
However, a risk-benefit analysis published in April in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. by Purnell and a colleague suggests that if the number of gastric bypass operations performed on diabetic patients increased to 1 million per year, as many as 14,310 diabetes-related deaths might be prevented over five years.