How Gastric Bypass Can Restore Pancreas Function

March 14, 2013

Mounting evidence is demonstrating the effectiveness of weight loss surgery in resolving type 2 diabetes in obese patients. However, it has been unclear exactly how these procedures work to reverse the condition. Now, a new Cleveland Clinic study has further pinpointed how the weight loss procedure, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, works to resolve diabetes. Researchers found that gastric bypass not only induces weight loss, but can increase the pancreas' insulin production by five times. The pancreas provides the body with insulin, and if we gain weight, the pancreas has to work harder. If we keep gaining weight, eventually the pancreas can lose its ability to supply enough insulin and the result is diabetes. The gastric bypass causes a hormone change in the gut, which triggers the pancreas to make insulin again. This effect wasn't observed in other patients in the study who received gastric sleeve surgery. The new research is a sub-study of the on-going STAMPEDE trial (Surgical Therapy And Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently) and involved 60 patients: 20 of which received gastric bypass surgery and intensive diabetes medical therapy, 20 of which received gastric sleeve surgery and the therapy, and 20 received just the therapy.

Patients with diabetes who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater may be suitable candidates for gastric bypass surgery. The procedure is a combined restrictive/malabsorptive operation, which means that it restricts both food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs. During a gastric bypass, our surgeons create a small pouch at the top of the stomach to restrict food intake. Then the pouch is connected to a Y-shaped section of the small intestine, allowing food to bypass the lower stomach. At NYU, we perform most operations using a laparoscopic approach, using just 6 small incisions. This means less scarring and post-operative pain for patients. You can learn more about gastric bypass and the other weight loss surgery options offered at NYU by attending a free informational seminar or calling our office at 212-263-3166.