Weight loss surgery may be the answer to reversing type-2 diabetes in many obese patients.  A new study shows bariatric surgery is an effective treatment as many as three years after the procedure.

Dr. Philip Schauer is a bariatric surgeon at Cleveland Clinic and one of the study's lead authors. Three years ago, he and his team of researchers placed  150 obese people into two groups: intensive medical therapy or intensive medical therapy plus gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. Results show that three years later, those in the surgery group use fewer cardiovascular and glucose-lowering medications.

"We found that in the surgical patients you had much improvement in their blood sugar and reduced dependency on their medications. They had significant improvement in their overall quality of life, much more so, than folks who had medical treatment only," explained Schauer.

In fact, 90% of the people who had surgery are no longer taking insulin and many others are off all diabetic medications.

The surgery group also showed higher quality of life scores, improved cardiovascular risk factors, like cholesterol and blood pressure, and improved kidney function compared to those on medical therapy alone. Schauer says that after three years, it appears the benefits of the surgery far outweigh the risks.

"There are 22 million Americans with type-2 diabetes and 80% of them are either overweight or obese and we know that obesity is a major factor in the development of this disease, so if we can control the body weight we can definitely improve the diabetes," he explained.

Read more about this study in The New England Journal of Medicine.