The Changing Landscape of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery has evolved significantly since the first procedure was performed several decades ago. As the obesity epidemic has spread in the United States, bariatric surgery has been an option for an ever greater number of people. To this point, the primary qualification criterion for bariatric surgery, According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health) guidelines has been the Body Mass Index or BMI. Those with a BMI of over 35 who also present obesity related diseases are considered candidates for any bariatric procedure. In short, bariatric surgery is for obese people.

However recent data suggests that a lot may be changing in the field. While bariatric surgery is still an effective long-term weight loss tool, its benefits in the fight against diabetes are becoming ever clearer. Bariatric surgeons have long known that gastric bypass patients often improved or resolved their diabetes within a few days or weeks after surgery. Less clear was exactly why this happened. After all, the full weight loss effects of bariatric surgery can take a year or more to materialize. We’ve come to realize that gastric bypass surgery may, in fact, alter the bacterial composition of the intestine, which in turn can improve or eliminate adult onset diabetes. If proven to be true, the effect on bariatric and metabolic surgery may be transformative.

The important thing to remember is that bariatric surgery should only be performed on those who qualify and there is not sufficient data to suggest that surgery may be right for those with diabetes but who are not obese. Subsequent research will tell us if there are benefits to be had by widening the scope of bariatric procedures. We will keep you informed on this blog as these new developments break. In the meantime, if you are considering bariatric surgery we suggest that you attend a free weight loss surgery seminar with Dr. Chang to learn more about the benefits and risks of the procedures available to you.