Context: Most individuals who have non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus are obese. The obese population has proved a frustrating entity regarding weight loss and diabetes control. Results of medical weight loss programs, medications, and behavior therapy have proved disappointing.
Hypothesis: Bariatric surgery is the most effective method of diabetes management and cure in the morbidly obese population. Surgical procedures to cause malabsorption provide a more dramatic effect on diabetes owing to the imparted bypass of the hormonally active foregut.
Data sources: Pertinent journal articles spanning the last 40 years, as well as textbooks.
Conclusions: Bariatric surgical procedures have proven a much more successful method of weight loss and diabetes control in the obese population than conservative methods. These surgical procedures have proven safe with reported mortality rates of 0% to 1.5%. Bariatric operations may be divided based on the method of weight loss and effect on diabetes. The first category is restrictive and includes vertical banded gastroplasty and adjustable silicone gastric banding. These operations improve diabetes by decreasing food intake and body weight with a slowing of gastric emptying. The second category not only contains restrictive components but also elements of malabsorption. This category includes the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and biliary-pancreatic diversion, which bypass the foregut. Although all of the surgical procedures for obesity offer improved weight loss and diabetes control compared with conservative methods, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and biliary-pancreatic diversion offer superior weight loss and resolution of diabetes. The more dramatic effect seen in the surgical procedures to cause malabsorption is likely secondary to the bypass of the foregut resulting in increased weight loss and elevation of the enteroglucagon level.