Conquering Diabetes with Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery provides hope to patients struggling to control diabetes

For many patients, bariatric surgery is not about fitting into a certain clothing size. While that is certainly major bonus, the motivation to undergo the weight-loss surgery is often to alleviate health conditions that keep them from living a full life and jeopardize their future.Bariatric Surgery helped Joe conquer diabetes

Bari pt Musial

That was true for Joe Musial, Ph.D., whose body mass index (BMI) was too low to typically qualify him for bariatric surgery. But his diabetes was out of control despite his best efforts, and he didn’t need much convincing that surgery was the right decision once he heard the data.

“So far, the research is very clear that bariatric surgery makes a huge difference in overcoming a number of major health problems, especially diabetes,” says Jeffrey Genaw, M.D., who leads Henry Ford’s bariatric surgery program. “People worry about the risk of surgery but, in reality, the risks are extremely small and are far outweighed by the risks of living with a serious health condition like uncontrolled diabetes or heart disease.”

A biostatistician who had helped train residents and medical students for the Henry Ford Medical Group years ago, Joe first heard about the connection between bariatric surgery and diabetes management in a resident’s paper.

Years later, Joe was finding it increasingly hard to control his own type 2 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at age 40. He was up to five insulin injections a day. The next step was an insulin pump and he feared the complications that might be in his future. He was also dealing with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Analyzing scientific data and understanding probabilities are his thing. And his numbers didn’t look good.

In July 2012, Joe began the exercise and nutrition classes that are part of the Henry Ford Bariatric Surgery Program. In February 2013, he had a procedure known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass at Henry Ford Hospital, performed by Dr. Genaw.

Within three weeks, he was off insulin. Five months after surgery, his sleep apnea is gone, and blood pressure and cholesterol are under control.

“The truth is that it’s probably added 20 years to my life, and my quality of life is so much improved,” says Joe, who lives in Farmington, Mich. with his wife and son. “I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to someone else in my situation. In fact, I would tell them not to waste time on insulin for so long like I did.”

Among the other post-surgery benefits are that his energy level has greatly improved, which is important for the Little League coach, full-time educational consultant for Wayne County public schools and part-time professor of statistics and experimental design at the University of Michigan – Dearborn.

His fitness routine is also more productive and includes swimming and weight training.

While it wasn’t his goal, he also admits that he doesn’t mind buying new clothes these days – he has gone from a size 44 waist to a size 34. He’s lost more than 50 pounds.

More importantly for this numbers guy, though, is that his probability of living a long, healthy life has greatly improved.

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