A New Surgery for Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes can be a challenging disease. With the risk of complications and the need to constantly check blood sugars and avoid too many carbs, it’s not surprising that some diabetics become anxious and depressed. The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, a condition where the body is resistant to the insulin it produces. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their symptoms through diet, but others need medications. Now researchers are exploring another treatment option – surgery for type 2 diabetes.

Surgery for Diabetes?

Doctors from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston are enrolling people in a study to see how effective a new surgery for diabetes is. Their hope is this surgery will help some type 2 diabetics reduce the amount of medication they take to control their blood sugars – or eliminate the need for medications entirely. This study will be the first to compare surgery to medical therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes.

What does this surgery for diabetes entail? It involves moving the distal portion of the small intestine called the ileum closer to the stomach. This procedure reduces the size of the stomach. When the ileum is closer to the stomach, it triggers more rapid release of blood-sugar regulating hormones, which may help with blood sugar control. This procedure has already proven effective in some patients, allowing them to reduce their diabetic medications.

The idea that surgery for diabetes could be beneficial came after doctors found that patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery for obesity often experienced improvements in their blood sugar levels. Some were even able to come off of their medications entirely. Doctors then turned their focus to developing a similar surgery for diabetes treatment.

Is surgery for diabetes ready for prime time? Even if this small study is successful, larger clinical trials are needed before surgery could be widely recommended for diabetics. At this stage, diabetics aren’t candidates unless they are overweight or obese.

Surgery for Type 2 Diabetes: The Bottom Line?

This surgery could help to improve the lifestyle of people with type 2 diabetes who are taking multiple medications and still struggling to get their blood sugars under control. Hopefully, it will prove to be a safe and effective procedure for hard-to-treat type 2 diabetics.


Medical News Today. “Diabetes Surgery Studied as Potential Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes”

Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.