JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Diabetes is one of the top 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Most often it's because of excessive body fat.
Patients who change their diet and exercise and turn things around, but weight loss surgery can also improve or cure diabetes. This option is now more widely accepted and patients are seeing immediate results.
Doctors note they start to see results even before patients leave the hospital and start to lose weight, so they believe there is a benefit outside the weight loss. The surgery is curing or at least improving diabetes in as many as 98 percent of patients who get the surgery.
Charles VanDyke is finally off medication after suffering with diabetes for many years.
"I had diabetes for 15 years and it was uncontrolled it was all high and low numbers," says Van Dyck.
Diabetes controlled VanDyke's life, and his doctors were exhausting options.
"Tried pills, we tried insulin, we tried diet, we tried to exercise," says VanDyke.
He consulted with three doctors, and finally one suggested something different.
"It works almost immediately in the hospital for patients who have diabetes and that is independent of weight loss, because you don't lose much weight in the first two or three days after surgery," says Dr. Steve Webb.
Webb is a bariatric surgeon at Memorial Hospital. He's explaining how weight loss or metabolic surgery can lower glucose levels. There are several different procedures, and all have shown some degree of success.
"Everything we do is done laparoscopically, so the surgeries range anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours," says Webb.
Those surgeries include gastric bypass surgery. It alters the GI tract to cause food to bypass most of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. It cures diabetes in 80 percent of patients.
The sleeve is another option. It removes a large portion of the stomach. Diabetes remission rates are more than 60 percent.
Also the duodenal switch which is the most effective but performed less frequently, with more than 85 percent remission rates for diabetes. The percentages, for each procedure, were higher in the people who didn't go into remission but saw some improvement in their glucose levels.
VanDyke opted for gastric bypass surgery. He's nine months out of surgery and his life and health have changed drastically.
"I was able to come off one insulin right off the bat right from the surgery get-go. I was off of the high blood pressure medicine and the insulin I was taking. I was taking the insulin once a day," says VanDyke.
Webb said he could be diabetes-free soon.
"He said give it a little more time, in probably in about a year, I won't have to take any more insulin at all. I'll be able to come off all the insulin and that takes me off of all the medications that I was taking for diabetes and high blood pressure," says VanDyke.
These results have led to a consensus from diabetes organizations worldwide to recognize that metabolic surgery is a standard treatment option for type 2 diabetes. There are still risks of complications as with any surgery.