Posted March 30, 2012 - 3:22pm by Tracy
The media is buzzing about bariatric surgery as a treatment for diabetes. But some local medical experts recommend caution, as well as lifestyle changes, when it comes to treating this condition.
In health news this week, headline after headline has touted the viability of bariatric surgery as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
This news comes in the wake of two studies published last week which found that surgical procedures (like stomach stapling and gastric bypass) may be equally or more effective than traditional treatments (like medication, diet and exercise) in lessening or eliminating diabetes in patients who are obese, overweight and suffering from high blood sugar.
With the rapid increase in diagnosed cases of diabetes among Americans, these findings have caught the nation’s attention — and spurred a debate in the medical community.
Many clinicians believe that the benefits outweigh the risks associated with major surgery if it means a more effective treatment for diabetes. Others are wary, asking for more research and that patients think hard before they choose surgery.
Debbie Drewke, a registered dietitian and manager of the Diabetes Community Center at Swedish Covenant Hospital, is in the latter camp, and believes patients should try lifestyle changes before considering more aggressive options.
“Research has shown that gastric bypass surgery causes changes in gut hormones that may put a patient’s diabetes into remission,” She said. “However, this mechanism is not fully understood.”
She would like to see more research in this area. In the meantime, she cautions patients who are obese and experiencing type 2 Diabetes not to assume surgery as their best option without fully understanding the seriousness of the procedure, or the other treatment options available.
“[Sugery] is anything but a quick fix,” Drewke said, explaining that after the gastric procedures food intake is limited because the size of the stomach is reduced, which can be a difficult transition for many people.
For those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or are living with high blood sugar, Drewke recommends going to see your doctor or contacting a local diabetes center. From there, medical experts can help determine the best ways to address the condition, develop a nutrition plan, sign up for diabetes education and support programs, and begin treatment.
The medical staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Diabetes Community Center recommends exercise, blood glucose monitoring, carbohydrate counting and other dietary guidelines, depending on the patient’s medical history. If the blood sugars continue to be elevated, doctors and patients will consider oral medications, injections, surgical procedures and other interventions.
Drewke points out that even if surgical intervention is deemed necessary, the lifestyle changes are non-negotiable.
“No matter what treatment works best, diabetes management comes down to diet, exercise and consistency,” Drewke said. “You have to commit to positive changes, or no treatment will be effective in the long run.”