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.

To learn more on this topic:
Can Gastric Bypass Surgery Reverse Diabetes?
Bariatric Surgery and Type 2 Diabetes: Not a Quick Fix
Diet or Surgery: Which Really Causes Reduction in Blood Sugar Levels?