In Qatar, where 70 percent of patients and nearly half the population have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, Dr. Davit Sargsyan is hoping for a change. In an article published on Medscape, Dr. Sargsyan, who is a bariatric surgeon, presented the findings of a study published in Obesity Surgery Journal and his recommendations for follow-up visits after bariatric surgery.
Those who received bariatric surgery and an average of 17 months of follow-up visits were significantly more successful than patients who received conventional medical therapy. “The odds of bariatric surgery patients reaching T2DM (type 2 diabetes) remission ranged from 9.8 to 15.8 times the odds of patients treated with conventional therapy,” the study states.
Even with the high success rate, the problem of a relapse still persists. Research from the Swedish Obesity Study shows that 72 percent of surgery patients achieved diabetes remission, which then dropped to 36 percent 10 years later. With such a vast decrease, the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery become less clear.
But why the high relapse rate?
Dr. Sargsyan says that the best results come from the best follow-up care. Some patients look to surgery as a cure-all option and neglect the fact that they need to make a lifestyle change in order to see and keep positive results. The blame can’t be solely on the bariatric surgeons, endocrinologists or primary-care doctors who should ensure regular follow-up visits with patients
“People just don't come back in this region; there are almost no visits 6 months after surgery. Patients change phone numbers or locations and they don't answer emails,” says Dr. Sargsyan, “Everything depends on how committed doctors and patients are to follow-up: these patients can never be signed off. Once they are 6 months out from surgery, they think they are cured, and we lose them to follow-up, and then they go back to junk food and poor lifestyles and regain weight."
As for Dr. Sargsyan’s recommendations, patients should continue to be seen at least once a year after their operation in order to get the follow-up advice they need. There's an abundant need for patient education, and speaking with your doctor before and after bariatric surgery can help ensure your success.