A new study published in JAMA shows that bariatric surgery such as gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band, was far superior than medical treatment alone with regard to diabetes resolution.
This trial examined 61 diabetic patients and randomized them to gastric bypass, gastric band, or best intensive medical treatment. While 40 percent of gastric bypass patients and 29 percent of gastric band patients saw their diabetes to into remission, none of the patients in the medical treatment arm achieved this goal. Patients identified as being in remission required no medications to treatment diabetes.
Interestingly, very expensive new medications to treat diabetes hit the market each year and these medications are typically covered by insurance carriers. Yet they have no real impact on treating the actual disease of diabetes, only the symptoms of the disease. Indeed, if a medication were to hit the market that would cure 40% of diabetics, it would be heralded as the greatest discovery of the century. Yet we have effective surgical procedures that achieve this same goal and most of the time patients who need surgery can’t get it because it is an exclusion on their policy.
Can you imagine the public outcry if this fictional medication were available yet excluded?
Diabetes can be a devastating disease and surgical weight loss is an effective treatment for this disease. Numerous studies have shown this, and it is time for the insurance industry to wake up and expand coverage for these much-needed procedures. Exlcusions for bariatric surgery are discriminatory and would not be tolerated for any other disease, especially with the compelling evidence that exists with regard to resolving weight-related medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.
Dr. Trace Curry, Medical Director, Metabolic Weight Loss Centers LLC
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