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Weight-Loss Surgery May Cut Type 2 Diabetes Medication Use
Date:8/17/2010

rs ago, surgeons realized that when they performed weight-loss surgery that reduces the stomach's capacity, some people were able to go off insulin or other diabetes medications within days of surgery. The current study was designed to look at how the surgery correlates with a reduction in diabetes medication use, and the costs of the procedure versus the continued need for diabetes medications and other related health care expenses.

Makary and his colleagues examined 2,235 adults with type 2 diabetes from seven different states who had undergone bariatric weight-loss surgery over a four-year period between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2005. The risk of death from this surgery is 0.3 percent, according to Makary.

Of the participants, 85.8 percent were taking at least one diabetes medication before surgery, with an average of 4.4 medications per patient. The researchers found that within six months of surgery, 1,669 (74.7 percent) of the surgical patients were able to stop taking their diabetes medications. After one year, 80.6 percent were off diabetes medications and at two years, 84.5 percent were no longer taking them.

Even many of those who previously needed to take insulin, which indicates more advanced disease, were able to stop taking it.

The average cost of surgery for this type of procedure is nearly $30,000, according to the study. The average annual health care cost for each person with type 2 diabetes was estimated to be about $6,376 in the two years preceding the surgery. Total annual health care costs increased by nearly 10 percent in the year following the surgery, but dropped by 34.2 percent by year two and by 70.5 percent by year three, when health care costs declined by nearly $4,500 annually.

"This is not just a surgery that addresses obesity, but it also eliminates the need for diabetes medications in the vast majority. There are enormous implications for health care utilization and policies. This
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