When we think of pandemics, we often think of illnesses like the coronavirus. But there are two more national pandemics that deserve more attention. We are referring to obesity and its close cousin, type 2 diabetes.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes go hand in hand. Currently, there are more than 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and another 87 million have been diagnosed with obesity. Combined, the two diseases cause a variety of complications, some of which occur in the brain. For example, neuropathy (nerve damage) can result from obesity and diabetes, which is characterized by numbness and tingling, and sometimes pain.
The good news is that bariatric (weight loss) surgeries like the sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) can help!
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes affects more than 150 million people all around the world. That number is only expected to increase in the coming years. 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2, which is associated with obesity. Type 2 diabetes can also be the product of lack of physical activity, a family history of the disease, and advanced age.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas fails to produce adequate amounts of insulin, the pancreas in Type 2 patients produces enough insulin, but the body is unable to use it. Experts still are unclear why the body cannot use the insulin production in Type 2 diabetics. What we do know is that the condition can worsen. Patients affected by advanced stage diabetes can experience heart and blood vessel disease, blindness, stroke, kidney failure, amputation, and (as we’ve already established) nerve damage.
Neuropathy is often the first sign that Type 2 diabetes is in fact getting worse.
How Do You Know if You Have Obesity & Diabetes Related Neuropathy?
If you have been diagnosed with both obesity and diabetes, you can determine if you are experiencing neuropathy by the sensations you feel. Peripheral nerve issues typically start with numbness, then tingling, or even pain in the feet. You might feel pins and needles in your toes only to have the sensation work itself up your leg. Pretty soon you may feel numbness or pain in your knees, or even your hands.
We refer to this phenomenon as a stocking-glove distribution. It usually occurs in the same manner on both the left and right sides.
When patients feel pain, that’s when the neuropathy tends to attract greater attention. It’s also when most patients start seeking a doctor for help.
A doctor can help manage the pain. However, treatments aren’t always 100% effective and you may experience a diminished quality of life as a result.
How Is Diabetes & Obesity Related Neuropathy Treated?
Doctors have access to three classes of drugs that can help to treat nerve pain. Topical creams like lidocaine and capsaicin can also help, but we need more data to assess their efficacy. Some patients have found inroads with non-pharmacological approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation, but these are often on a case-by-case basis.
While doctors can readily treat neuropathy pain, it’s better to fix the underlying problem.
Bariatric surgery, like the sleeve gastrectomy, can repair the problem for many patients. The gastric sleeve, as the surgery is more commonly called, can reverse the metabolic dysfunction that diabetes and obesity cause.
Not only have bariatrics been shown to treat obesity permanently in patients, but patients also often experience improved blood pressure and a greater quality of life.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Surgeons perform bariatric surgery on patients suffering from obesity (a BMI over 35) who haven’t had success in losing weight through traditional means like diet and exercise. This type of surgery is minimally invasive. It works by decreasing hunger and increasing satiety (a feeling of fullness) while you eat.
The surgery restricts the amount of food your stomach can hold. It affects the hunger hormone ghrelin, which helps to reduce the amount of nutrients your body can absorb.
To be qualified for a surgery like the gastric sleeve, you should have a BMI of 40 or above. This indicates that you are about 100 pounds overweight. If you have a BMI of 35 with one or more obesity related conditions like type 2 diabetes and blood pressure, you are also a good candidate for surgery.
It is that combination of diabetes and obesity we are focused on now, and the gastric sleeve can help to reverse both conditions for life!
What is the Gastric Sleeve and How Does it Help You Lose Weight?
The sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that involves the use of general anesthesia. Once they prepare you for the procedure, the bariatric surgeon will make tiny incisions along your abdomen. These act as entry points for the laparoscopic camera and associated tools that are necessary to perform the surgery. All the work is completed inside your abdomen, with the surgeon viewing the action on a monitor positioned nearby. Here’s what goes down while you’re asleep.
Your surgeon will first cut away 80% of your stomach. This makes procedures like the gastric sleeve irreversible. The surgeon will convert the remaining stomach tissue into a pouch or “sleeve”. The newly configured stomach leaves less room to accommodate the food you eat. In turn, you can no longer eat as much. The surgery also affects the hunger hormone ghrelin, which cuts down on cravings and makes you feel fuller faster while you eat.
Gastric sleeve patients experience long-term weight loss, improved health, and increased energy levels. Sleeve gastrectomy patients also experience a reprieve from obesity-related conditions like Type 2 diabetes.
Over 60% of patients show no signs of diabetes following weight loss surgery like the gastric sleeve. So, essentially, weight loss surgery treats two conditions in one – diabetes and obesity.
How much weight can you lose with the gastric sleeve? Overall, most gastric sleeve patients go on to lose 50% of their excess weight.
How Does the Gastric Sleeve Treat Type 2 Diabetes?
Weight loss surgery can restore your body’s blood sugar levels. Procedures like the gastric sleeve can even cure diabetes completely. Some patients are able to reduce their medication use while others are able to toss-out their diabetes medication altogether following their respective surgeries.
Research chose that weight loss surgery gives vast improvements to patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients also have better cholesterol, improved triglyceride levels, more energy, and other important benefits.
Only 6% to 8% of patients who took medicine but did not undergo bariatric surgery experienced similar results.
Doesn’t Weight Loss Surgery Have Risks?
While all surgeries have risks, the dangers involved with gastric sleeve and related surgeries are no different than standard procedures like gallbladder surgery. The procedures are minimally invasive. They have been deemed both safe and effective, not only for obesity but also for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Also, consider this: The risks associated with bariatric surgery are less than the risk of death from diabetic complications.
You can lower your chances of experiencing complications by choosing the best gastric sleeve surgeon you can find, such as Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California.
Ready to Treat Obesity & Diabetes with the Sleeve Gastrectomy?
Find out if you are a good candidate for bariatrics like the sleeve gastrectomy by calling Healthy Life Bariatrics for a consultation. Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki is a Los Angeles native and has extensive experience performing gastric sleeves and other bariatric procedures around the world. Dr. Moeinolmolki is dually trained in both bariatrics and cosmetic body contouring surgery. That means Dr. Moien can help you achieve your body shape goals after the weight has come off.
Step into the path to treating diabetes and obesity for good. Dr. Moein and his surgical staff look forward to meeting you – (310)694-4486.