Have you ever had a question about weight loss surgery, dieting, or just about life as an overweight person but were too embarrassed? In this ongoing column, entitled “Ask a Fat Man”, I will take reader questions about any obesity or weight loss related subject they want to ask and give an answer straight from the personal experience of being a one-year banded Lap Band patient and a life long fat man who has lost over 150 lbs with Lap Band surgery. Please note I am not a medical professional and if you are considering any weight loss surgery you should consult a weight loss surgery center in your area.
Today’s question comes from Valerie G. from Madison, TN. She asks:
Did you ever have any issues with blood sugar before your surgery and if so, did the surgery help? I’ve heard that weight loss surgery helps with diabetes.
Thanks for writing, Valerie. No, despite being more than double my recommended weight and having pretty much every risk behavior for Type 2 Diabetes, I never had a problem with it. I guess I was just lucky. So I have no personal experience in this area.
Fortunately, I can still answer your question as it came up often in the classes I had to take prior to having weight loss surgery.
The majority of overweight people who are diabetic have Type 2 Diabetes, which is also known as Adult Onset Diabetes. While genetics play a role in who gets Type 2 Diabetes, behavior plays a much bigger role. People who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, drink in moderation, and maintain a healthy weight are much less likely to contract Type 2 Diabetes. Basically, everything that overweight people normally do puts you at risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
Weight loss surgery will not cure your Type 2 Diabetes. There is no cure at this time. But what it often does for those who have the surgery and follow the post-surgery plan, is reduce the symptoms of the disease, sometimes to no symptoms or need for medicine at all.
Studies are still being conducted on whether the weight loss surgery itself does anything to help Type 2 Diabetes, but the most recent evidence is that Gastric Bypass, which permanently alters the way your body digests food, probably does while Gastric Banding, which only restricts how much you can eat but leaves your digestive track intact, probably does not.
With either surgery, the biggest benefit Type 2 Diabetics will see is through the extreme weight loss. Weight loss surgery patients who are successful usually lose between 50-80% of their excess weight. That kind of weight loss is bound to have an effect on your Type 2 Diabetes. My Bariatric Nurse talked about this during one of our classes and said she’s seen dozens of patients who went from having to give themselves shots daily to not having to take any medicine at all. So it can definitely help.
In addition to the weight loss, the changes in behavior associated with successful weight loss surgery patients also help minimize the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. Making the decision to have weight loss surgery is a big one and usually by the time you’ve made it, you’re ready to take on some of the other things that you may have not done in your life. To be successful with your weight loss surgery, you will have to commit to exercise, proper nutrition, and a low Glycemic Index diet. All the same things you’d have to commit to if you wanted to manage your Type 2 Diabetes.
I hope that helped, Valerie. Good luck to you if you decide to have the surgery. I’m a year and a half banded now and 160 lbs. later I can say it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask a fat man, either put it in the comment section or send it to me by e-mail and I’ll try to answer it here.