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Gastric Bypass Surgery for Type 1 Diabetes

T1DM and Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass and Type 1 diabetes

Gastric bypass surgery for type 1 diabetes is rare. Although it is a well-established treatment option for people with type 2 diabetes.

However, obese people with type 1 diabetes can also go for this treatment as it greatly reduces the risk of other complications that are associated with type 1 diabetes.

Obesity has been linked to the onset of chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.

In individuals with type 1 diabetes, the prevalence of obesity has alarmingly increased in recent years, with poorly understood mechanisms resulting in the development of insulin resistance and cardiometabolic problems.

T1D is linked to major long-term consequences that impact the cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, and nervous system as well as predispose to specific infections, which can result in noticeably higher mortality rates compared to non-diabetics.

Being overweight, which is more frequently found in T1D patients, can significantly affect how the disease develops [ref].

In predisposed young people, obesity and insulin resistance may hasten the onset of T1DM [ref]. However, managing T1DM in those who are extremely obese can be difficult since aggressive insulin therapy may have negative anabolic effects on body weight, which worsens insulin resistance [ref].

Importantly, research suggests that there is a link between metabolic syndrome and obesity and the progression of both microvascular and macrovascular problems in people with T1D.

Bariatric surgical procedures have positive effects on elements of metabolic syndrome. Leading to a decreased risk of hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and inflammation, in addition to achieving significant and long-lasting weight loss.

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Surgical Techniques for Type 1 Diabetics

Patients with T1D undergo all four extensively used bariatric operations:

  1. Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.
  2. Adjustable gastric banding.
  3. Sleeve gastrectomy.
  4. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

In one study,  Roux-en-Y gastric bypass was the most popular treatment among 65% of the participants.

Loop gastric bypass (mini-gastric bypass) [ref] and single-anastomosis duodenoileal bypass were other treatments that were documented [ref].

Diversionary bariatric procedure

Diversionary bariatric surgeries are more effective than non-diversionary procedures. They improve the metabolic health of T2D patients, as evidenced by greater weight loss and weight-independent effects.

With a risk/benefit profile that falls between strictly restrictive (gastric banding) and malabsorptive (duodenal switch) surgeries, gastric bypass offers a therapy option for T1D patients at an adequate risk [ref].

Sleeve gastrectomy for Type 1 Diabetes:

A  recent surgical treatment, sleeve gastrectomy offers weight loss, metabolic benefits, and surgical risks in between procedures.

In patients with T1D, sleeve gastrectomy may be an effective choice for postoperative glycemic management and lowering the risk of hypoglycemia since it is thought to result in a more predictable absorption of carbs and fat-soluble nutrients [ref].

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Effects on Comorbidities of Obesity and Diabetes

Most obesity-related comorbidities, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, sleep apnea, GERD, liver steatosis, and musculoskeletal issues, are resolved or improved after bariatric surgery.

Severely obese patients with T1DM can benefit from the same favorable effects on obesity-related comorbidities.

Studies showed improvements in lipid profiles and blood pressure [ref]. In a side-by-side study, individuals with T1DM and T2DM experienced post-bariatric surgery hypertension and dyslipidemia remission rates that were comparable.

A few studies also found evidence that surgery improved patients’ quality of life, retinopathy, renal function, microalbuminuria, and sleep apnea [ref].

Another advantage of bariatric surgery would be a decrease in the amount and dosage of medications required to treat diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and other comorbidities associated with obesity [ref].

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Mechanism of Action of Bariatric Surgery:

The precise mechanisms for improved glycemic status following bariatric surgery in T1DM patients are unknown.

T1D is characterized by autoimmune-cell destruction, which results in impaired insulin secretion. However, the rate of destruction can vary [ref].

Bariatric surgery improves pancreatic islet size, function, and survival in T2D patients. There is no evidence that patients with long-term T1DM with little or no residual-cell activity can regenerate an adequate level of insulin secretion after surgery.

As a result, the observed reduction in HbA1c in T1D cannot be as good as the reported outcomes of bariatric surgery in T2D patients [ref].

However, surgically induced weight loss lessens lipotoxicity in the liver and skeletal muscles as well as the pro-inflammatory environment linked to obesity, which can lessen the insulin resistance associated with obesity [ref].

The incretin pathway, which inhibits glucagon release even in the absence of residual β-cells, may also play a role in better glucose metabolism in T1D patients after bariatric surgery [ref].

According to research, T1D patients with residual β-cell function after 4 weeks of treatment with liraglutide had improved glucose control.

Some patients were able to stop taking insulin since the treatment’s impact was greater in those who still had measurable C-peptide from their residual β-cell [ref]

One case series of T1DM showed that the amount of weight loss did not correspond with the reduction in basal insulin needs soon after gastric bypass, pointing to processes independent of weight loss [ref].

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The Benefits and Risks of Bariatric Surgery in Diabetic Patients [ref]

Risks of weight loss surgery:

Early and late postoperative problems can be classified as bariatric surgery hazards. Bleeding, leak, infection, pulmonary embolism, and death are the early complications of bariatric surgery that occur most frequently.

Lack of vitamins and minerals, stenosis, anastomotic ulcer, and hernia are some of the late consequences.

Bariatric surgery mortality is influenced by a variety of variables, including the surgeon, facility, procedure, and patient-related factors.

Choosing the best surgical procedure for a given patient reduces the surgery’s risk and improves the outcome.

Benefits of weight loss surgery:

Although there are some harmful effects of bariatric surgery, the advantages outweigh these risks.

Compared to the 4.5% risk of death from diabetic complications, the risk of dying through bariatric surgery is less than 0.3%.

In general, diabetic people are more likely to need bariatric surgery than non-diabetic ones. Less than 1% of diabetics who undergo bariatric surgery die; this risk is justified by the significant benefits of decreased progression of type 2 diabetes in obese people.

Early bariatric surgery results in better outcomes. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the likelihood of remission increases with shorter diabetes duration.

Improperly treated diabetes causes the pancreatic beta cells to die, and losing weight enhances the beta cells’ sensitivity to glucose.

Early surgical intervention in diabetes patients maintains the pancreatic beta cells, leads to improved outcomes, and produces long-lasting remission.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

Dr. Ahmed is an experienced Internist with over fifteen years of practice in the medical field. He strongly believes that true medical practice is about helping people, not just prescribing pills.
He has found that the best results come from motivating patients to make small lifestyle changes in addition to prescribing medications when necessary.
With a focus on managing obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, depression, arthritis, migraine, high cholesterol levels, and many more medical conditions in his patients, he shares his knowledge and expertise through writing health-related articles for
He is committed to helping patients achieve optimal health outcomes and improve their quality of life. For direct contact, he can be reached at

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