Surgery may be an option if diet and exercise haven't helped you lose weight.

More and more people are turning to bariatric surgery to help them lose weight. Several procedures can reshape the digestive tract to limit how much food you can eat and how many nutrients and calories your body can absorb. For people with diabetes, added benefits may include lower blood sugar levels, improved heart health, and, in some cases, resolution of the disease.

You can expect to lose about 50 to 60 percent of your excess weight within a couple of years of weight loss surgery. To be a candidate, you should:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 or a somewhat lower BMI plus an obesity-related medical condition—like diabetes.
  • Be in good enough physical and mental health to undergo surgery and stick with lifelong lifestyle changes afterward.
  • Have already tried diet and exercise to lose weight.

You should also consider this: With your stomach reduced to the size of a pouch, you will be able to eat only small amounts at a time. You'll also need to limit fats and sugar.

Risks of weight loss surgery include blood clots in the legs, infection and reaction to anesthesia. As your diet changes, you may experience

  • "dumping syndrome," where food moves quickly into the intestines, causing cramps, nausea and diarrhea;
  • anemia and other nutritional deficiencies;
  • fatigue;
  • hair loss; and
  • mood changes.

From our sister publication Diabetes Focus Summer 2014; Our expert is Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and biological chemistry, Johns Hopkins

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 12 Jun 2014

Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014