Bariatric Surgery: A Cure For Diabetes?

Gastric bypass surgery is so successful in reversing type 2 diabetes that a coalition of international experts say it should be a standard treatment for the condition.

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What is type 2 diabetes?

If you’re overweight or obese, you’re three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that increases the risk of heart problems, stroke, vision loss and nerve damage. It’s often progressive, meaning that you may eventually need medications or insulin injections to keep your blood sugar within a normal range.

Type 2 diabetes happens when your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or can no longer make sufficient insulin for your body’s needs. It’s linked to your ethnic and family history but is also strongly influenced by lifestyle factors relating to diet, exercise and weight.

Standard treatment for diabetes usually involves a healthy diet, exercising regularly, losing excess weight and, often, taking frequent tablets or insulin injections. Even with all that, you may still find that it’s hard to keep your blood glucose levels normal, putting you at risk of long-term health problems.

Bariatric surgery and type 2 diabetes

In 2016, a multidisciplinary group of nearly 50 international clinicians, researchers and advocacy groups issued a joint statement recommending bariatric surgery as standard treatment for people with type 2 diabetes and a BMI greater than 35 who were unable to manage their blood sugars through other means.

So, what are the benefits of bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes? Obviously, there’s the weight loss. But there’s so much more than that.

Bariatric surgery changes the way your whole digestive system works, helping your body make and use insulin more effectively.

The benefits of bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Helping you feel full on less food
  • Changing how your gut hormones work which changes your insulin production
  • Increasing the amount of bile acid you make, which makes you more sensitive to insulin
  • Improving your use of insulin which helps you manage your blood sugar levels.

Gastric bypass surgery for type 2 diabetes

Gastric bypass surgery involves reducing your stomach to about the size of a small orange. The stomach is then directed to bypass the upper small intestine. The goal is to restrict the amount of food your stomach can hold and change how your body absorbs nutrients.

Gastric bypass surgery has proven to improve blood sugar by changing the levels of gut hormones, as well as by speeding up weight loss. It may also change the balance of microbes in the digestive system in beneficial ways.

For some, normal blood sugar levels will return, sometimes just days after surgery.

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Does bariatric surgery cure type 2 diabetes?

Yes and no. There is no official cure for type 2 diabetes. However, bariatric surgery does enable many people with type 2 diabetes to experience normal blood sugars without any further treatment.

One observational study of 1186 people with diabetes who had bariatric surgery found that after a gastric bypass, 83% of patients were in remission from diabetes after 1 year, 2 years and 5 years.

How do you keep the weight off afterwards?

Bariatric surgery is more than the operation itself. For life-long weight management, you will need to make lifestyle changes.

After a gastric bypass, you will need to:

  • Begin on a liquid diet, moving gradually to solids over a 2-month period
  • Make permanent changes to your diet to ensure it is full of healthy, nutritious food (you will not lose weight if your diet is unhealthy)
  • Get into the habit of regular exercise.

How Life Weight Loss Centre can help

If you’re living with type 2 diabetes and have a BMI over 30 (25-30 for the asian population), we’d love to help you lose weight.

Our dietitian and exercise physiologist will then support you as you make lifestyle changes to keep the weight off.

Life Weight Loss is here to offer advice on the right weight loss solution for you. Call us on 1300 669 259 and speak to one of our trusted team, or visit


All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. 

Want to know more?

Request a callback from one of our friendly Practice Managers


Want to know more? Request a callback

Want to know more?

Request a callback from one of our friendly Practice Managers