Bariatric surgery in managing diabetes mellitus

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Purpose of review

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic, having profound effects on Western populations. Bariatric surgery has long been employed to treat obesity and its related comorbidities. Over time, researchers have amassed significant data to support bariatric surgery in the pursuit of treating diabetes mellitus. This review serves to introduce the most recent findings and their relation to the various bariatric surgical options as bariatric surgery will continue to cement itself in the treatment paradigm of diabetes mellitus.

Recent findings

Numerous studies performed in the past 10 years have demonstrated the improvement or cessation of diabetes with bariatric surgical intervention. In comparing the vertical sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, data demonstrate a more beneficial response of diabetes to the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, and an even further exaggerated response with the biliopancreatic diversion/duodenal switch. The benefit has long been established, but what causes the improvement in diabetes mellitus after bariatric surgery? Recent data suggest a decrease in circulating bile salts as well as changes to inflammatory markers and circulating cytokines. Furthermore, tailoring of existing surgical procedures has led to the development of the SIPS procedure, and its benefit is demonstrated in bypassing a large portion of intestine while eliminating an enteroenterostomy, helping to reduce short gut syndrome and resultant diarrhea.


The surgical climate within the bariatric field is changing and will continue to do so in the future. As the understanding of the causes or mechanisms in which bariatric surgery improves metabolic disorders becomes more evident, the process of individualizing care for specific patients will become more prevalent.

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