A 14-year study that tracked 4,434 obese type 2 patients shows that despite much talk about gastric bypass surgery as a "cure" for diabetes, a majority of the patients who underwent the procedure had no long-lasting remission of their symptoms.
Bariatric surgery, which alters or blocks portions of the digestive system, has produced long-term remission of diabetes symptoms in many type 2 patients. However, a small study of obese type 2 patients who underwent bariatric surgery shows that the longer they had diabetes, the greater the chances that their disease recurred after surgery. The retrospective study, conducted by Yessica Ramos, MD, at the Mayo Clinic Arizona, found that patients who had had diabetes for five years or longer were nearly four times as likely to experience a recurrence of the disease after the remission brought on by the surgery.
As an orthopedic surgeon, I have many patients with diabetes who tell me, "I can't have surgery because I won't heal." That is certainly not the case, however. Diabetes does affect the small blood vessels and the function of immune cells when blood sugar is high, but with proper nutrition and blood sugar management, people with diabetes are very safe to undergo knee replacements, abdominal surgery, and many elective procedures.
My baby girl had just been born. I was in the postoperation room after going through a cesarean section. My husband went to get my parents, who had been waiting for twelve hours in the waiting room. A nurse laid my little girl in an incubator next to my bed and checked her blood sugar, which was normal, in the mid-40 range. Fifteen minutes later the nurse checked her again, and it registered in the mid-30s. I watched as the nurse fed my baby her first ounces of food. I was still too numb to even know that I had legs, much less to be able to wiggle my toes.
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