KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Experts are calling it one of the biggest changes in diabetes treatment since the advent of insulin. On Tuesday, they recommended gastric surgery as treatment for type two diabetes.
More than two years ago, Linda Donaldson weighed 280 pounds.
“I wanted to take control of my health and the only way to do that would be to lose weight,” said Donaldson.
She chose gastric bypass surgery. It’s long been considered weight loss surgery with the side benefit of improving diabetes.
“I remember in residency, nobody really talked about it, but we’d do a bypass in somebody and suddenly their sugars would completely normalize,” said Dr. Brent Sorensen, who was Donaldson’s bariatric surgeon at Saint Luke’s Hospital.
Now, for the first time, 45 international diabetes organizations say gastric surgery should be a standard treatment option for people with type two diabetes. This comes after multiple studies found that in many patients, surgery put the disease into remission.
“It just makes you use your insulin better. Now to become an accepted thing is really exciting because it can help people who aren’t necessarily morbidly obese but are having a lot of trouble with diabetes,” said Dr. Sorensen.
The experts say anyone with a body mass index of 30 or higher should consider surgery when their blood sugar levels aren’t controlled by medications or lifestyle changes.
The recommendation applies only to type two diabetes. Donaldson has type one, but she says she’s certainly benefited, too. She needs half the insulin she needed before.
“I’m 121 pounds lighter. I can go up the stairs two by two. Turned a couple of cartwheels recently. I just feel better. I feel better and that is priceless,” she said.