SATURDAY, June 23, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Gastric bypass surgery reverses diabetes in many obese patients, but the disease returns in about one-fifth of them within three to five years, a new study finds.
In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is made smaller to help people lose weight.
Researchers examined the medical records of 72 obese people with type 2 diabetes who had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure between 2000 and 2007, and had at least three years of follow-up visits.
Sixty-six (92 percent) of the patients had a reversal of their diabetes after their surgery. However, diabetes returned in 14 (21 percent) of those 66 patients at some point during the five-year follow up.
Those who did not have a recurrence of diabetes lost more weight immediately after the surgery and maintained a lower average weight throughout the follow-up period. There was no significant association between body mass index -- a measurement that takes weight and height into account -- before surgery and a higher diabetes recurrence rate after surgery.
The researchers did find that the longer patients had diabetes before surgery, the more likely they were to have diabetes recurrence after surgery. Those who'd had diabetes for more than five years pre-surgery were 3.8 times more likely to have diabetes return than those who'd had diabetes for a shorter period of time.
The findings suggest that the sooner obese people with diabetes have weight-loss surgery, the better, said lead author Dr. Yessica Ramos, an internal medicine resident at Mayo Clinic Arizona, in Scottsdale.
The study was presented Saturday at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, in Houston.
"Providers and patients need to be aware of this information, to have a better idea of the expected outcome and be able to make an informed decision about pursuing gastric bypass surgery," Ramos said in an Endocrine Society news release.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.