WASHINGTON, MO – At the age of 36, Tim Barrentine of St. Charles had a serious case of type 2 diabetes brought on seven years earlier due to being overweight. He was treating his symptoms with insulin and other prescribed remedies. Then he heard weight loss surgery is proving successful in resolving type 2 diabetes symptoms and lowering other health risks.
Barrentine had gastric bypass surgery in July at Mercy Bariatric Center in Washington and saw immediate results where his diabetes was concerned. Barrentine said, “Since I’ve had the surgery, I’ve never taken insulin.”
Type 2 diabetes is an illness that affects almost 26 million Americans. It’s a chronic condition whereby the body does not properly produce or use insulin, the hormone needed to move sugar through the body to use as energy. When blood-glucose levels are not maintained, life-threatening nerve and kidney damage can arise as well as other serious and life-threatening complications.
While obesity is often a cause of type 2 diabetes, it is believed that weight loss surgery itself, not just the weight loss that comes after the surgery, may reverse diabetes. Researchers believe hormone levels change when the size of the stomach is reduced. The change affects diabetes patients for the better.
“Many people can manage diabetes through diet, medication and exercise. If that combination doesn’t work, weight loss surgery is an option,” said Mercy Clinic physician Lisa Hawver, MD, a board-certified general surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery who leads the Mercy Bariatric Center at Mercy Hospital Washington. “But weight loss surgery is not recommended for everyone. By entering the program, you enter a whole new lifestyle. You have to be committed to the lifestyle.”
Barrentine, like all of Dr. Hawver’s patients, went through an extensive surgical candidacy process. There were also workshops and support groups are encouraged. Since his surgery, he is off his diabetes medications and losing weight. “I look at the surgery as a tool to help me get to my health goals,” he said. “Surgery isn’t an instant fix. You have to be dedicated, you have to put in the work before you get to the surgery, and then surgery is the start of the next phase. You have to stick with it to be successful.”
Excess weight – a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more – puts people at high risk for acquiring life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease and stroke, in addition to type 2 diabetes. Mercy offers programs in Washington to help people with nutrition, managing diabetes and weight control.
Dr. Hawver completed a fellowship in advanced laparoscopic surgery and specializes in the full continuum of care for patients undergoing weight loss surgery. Many health insurances assist with the costs and financial assistance may be available to those who qualify. For more information about weight loss surgery, visit www.mercy.net/washingtonmo/service/bariatrics or call 636-861-7870.