Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes: Is it Safe?

Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes

Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes: Is it Safe?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management and care. Unfortunately, lifestyle changes and medication don’t work for everyone. For many, bariatric surgery is the answer to their weight-related complications but it doesn’t come without potential risks. Find out what you need to know before you undergo this life-changing surgery if you are diabetic.

Low Complication Rates for Bariatric Surgery

On several occasions, I have blogged about the effectiveness of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) for type II diabetes. In patients recently diagnosed with type II diabetes, having a gastric bypass will put diabetes into remission 85% of the time.

Quite an impressive statistic. But is it a safe operation?

A recent study that used the American College of Surgeons quality database answers this question with confidence. This study looked at 66,000 patients with diabetes and compared post-op complications and mortality between gastric bypass and several common surgical procedures like a heart bypass, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, appendectomy, and colon surgery. It also compared post-op results with a laparoscopic hysterectomy and knee surgery replacement.

Results for Gastric Bypass

The results for gastric bypass were very good and very convincing.  The overall complication rate for gastric bypass was 3.4%.

The overall mortality rate for gastric bypass was 0.3%–about the same for knee replacement surgery. Only laparoscopic hysterectomies had a lower mortality rate.

Interestingly, laparoscopic appendectomy and gallbladder surgery had a little higher mortality rate of 0.5%, while heart bypass had 10 times higher mortality rate than gastric bypass.

This is very meaningful information for patients with type II diabetes.

I see patients every week with type II diabetes and other co-morbidities. Many of these patients have delayed surgical treatment for morbid obesity thinking that the surgery is very risky. But, in fact, it is very safe.

With early surgical therapy following a diagnosis of type II diabetes, 85% of the time diabetes will go into remission, and in many cases, avoid the possibility of damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and limbs due to the progression of diabetes.


In conclusion, gastric bypass is safe. It involves about the same risk as having your appendix or gallbladder removed. The benefits of gastric bypass far outweigh the risks. So, don’t let the potential risk of surgery prevent you from receiving life-changing treatment.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please call Colorado Bariatric Surgery Institute at 303-861-4505 or contact us from this page and we will be happy to assist you.

Some food for thought…happy summer!

Tom Brown, MD

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