Potential risks of gastric bypass include those that exist for most surgeries, including the possibility of excessive bleeding, blood clots and infection, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. But, these risks are often heightened in people who are obese.
Afterwards, people who've had the surgery may not absorb nutrients as well as they used to, and doctors often recommend taking certain supplements. Also, food can tend to move from the stomach to the small intestine too quickly, before it's fully digested. Called dumping syndrome, this side effect often develops after eating foods high in carbohydrates, according to Sherman. Symptoms may include abdominal pain and diarrhea.
And, despite its promise, not everyone with diabetes is an ideal candidate for gastric bypass.
It's currently recommended only for those with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 and those who have a BMI over 35 and a medical condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Type 1 diabetes, though, is not on the list. Williams noted that bariatric surgery won't help with blood sugar control in people with type 1 diabetes because type 1 is an autoimmune condition in which insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system. In type 2, Sherman said, the problem is not in the pancreas to begin with.
Gastric bypass surgery is also best for those who haven't had type 2 diabetes for a long time, and for those who don't have to use insulin to control their blood sugar.
"Bariatric surgery is not an easy fix," Williams said. "There's a lot of prep that goes into bariatric surgery, and then it's a lifelong lifestyle adjustment. Dietary intake is restricted for life, and people have to avoid high-sugar foods. But, it's a really good option for the right person."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about gastric bypass surgery.
Learn about one man's experience after weight-loss surgery, here.
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