Bariatric Patient’s Diabetes Disappears the Day After Procedure

Margarita before surgery

Margarita Martin had struggled with weight since she was 14 years old. She would gain weight, take some of it off and then put it back on – again and again.

But she reached a point where she no longer cared about her weight. At just under 5-foot-10, the Charleston mother of three had reached 300 pounds, but “I was a healthy girl.” She wasn’t diabetic; her cholesterol numbers were fine. She only had obstructive sleep apnea and wore a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device while she slept.

But then she had her wake-up call.

Margarita is a registered nurse at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, where she serves as the patient care leader in the labor and delivery unit. In 2007, she decided to participate in the hospital’s wellness program.

Her fasting blood sugar was nearly double what it should have been, and her cholesterol was off.

“Everything was out of whack,” she said. “That was my first reality check.”

She tried to lose the weight on her own, but finally followed the advice of a friend who had gastric bypass surgeryat Memorial Medical Center.

Margarita after surgery

With her husband David’s support, she had the Roux-en-Y procedure in May 2011. Fourteen months after her surgery, she weighed 165 pounds; she has lost 135 pounds.

One of the immediate improvements to her health came the morning after surgery. Her blood sugar level was excellent. While her caregivers continued to monitor her blood sugar for a while, she never took her diabetic medication again. And her nurse practitioner soon told her, “You can stop calling yourself a diabetic.”

Margarita’s cholesterol was also back to normal, and she was able to get rid of her CPAP device about six months later.

Margarita’s results are not unusual. More than 700 bariatric surgeries have been performed at Memorial Medical Center. Of those who had Type 2 diabetes, nearly three out of four (72 percent) had their diabetes resolved after surgery.

The local statistics have been reinforced by two clinical trials reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that patients who underwent weight-loss surgery saw their diabetes reverse.

Similar results have been achieved for patients with sleep apnea, hypertension, back pain, osteoarthritis and urinary stress, said Max Hammer, MD, FACS, medical director of Memorial Bariatric Services and a bariatric surgeon with Springfield Clinic.

For Margarita, who is now running 5Ks and can mow the lawn without breathing problems, “there aren’t words to describe how happy I am today compared to how I felt before the surgery.”