Anna Ferker (age 43) of Huntingdon Valley, PA, had gastric sleeve surgery at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill on June 30, 2020. She was interviewed about her experience on June 20, 2021.Read More
Right now, almost 34 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 90% of those have type 2 diabetes. This is a growing epidemic, but health care providers can play a critical role by helping patients manage and reverse type 2 diabetes. While diet changes and medication are typically the first recommendations for managing type 2 diabetes, there’s a more significant treatment increasingly being recommended: bariatric surgery.
“Bariatric surgery has been named both a treatment and a cure for type 2 diabetes. Over the past decade, there have been numerous studies crediting weight loss surgery to alleviating the symptoms and corresponding ailments associated with type 2 diabetes,” said Keith Kreitz, M.D., Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill.
At Inspira, patients looking to manage their diabetes diagnoses have access to robust bariatric services and surgery options, as well as a highly renowned, multi-disciplinary team of primary care providers, endocrinologists, pulmonologists, behavioral health experts and bariatric surgeons.
“This process is a journey, not a quick fix. And of course, the journey will be different for every patient,” said Dr. Kreitz. “Right now, nearly 40% of the United States population has a BMI above 30 and by 2030 it will reach 50%. And most of the time, our own patients don’t know they’re pre-diabetic or that weight loss and weight is connected to diabetes—and taking years off their life. We must empower them to think about surgery.”
When evaluating a patient with type 2 diabetes for bariatric surgery, it’s important to assess three main areas: their diet, exercise regimen and hemoglobin A1c level—which should ideally be 7 percent or lower for those with diabetes.
“One of the questions we always ask ourselves is: How can this patient overcome this condition without having gastric bypass surgery? This procedure is a full-term, full-life commitment, and as such, the preparation process for patients before surgery is a life change in itself. This isn’t just a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle overhaul,” said Dr. Kreitz.
This lifestyle overhaul begins months before surgery. Three months before surgery, patients undergo bloodwork, testing for sleep apnea, counseling and screening for cardiovascular, metabolic, kidney and behavioral health disorders. Additionally, this three-month period serves as a timeframe for patients to adapt to their new lifestyle.
“When it comes to tackling type 2 diabetes and considering bariatrics, communication is key. Primary care is an integral part of the process in both recommending a patient for and helping the patient prepare for surgery,” said Dr. Kreitz. “Preparing for bariatric surgery requires the patient to meet with endocrinologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists and behavioral health experts—practices that are very busy and may be difficult to get an appointment with. Because of this, we uphold a ‘concierge approach’ and commit ourselves to helping coordinate and confirm appointments cross-sectionally.”
Experts at Inspira Health understand how taxing and transformative bariatric surgery can be. That’s why we’re committed to not only following the patient throughout their operative journey—ranging from educational sessions to preoperative testing—but for the rest of their life.
“If you have a bariatric surgery candidate, just talk to them. Let them know about weight loss, about surgery and really, just raise that awareness. Let them know that they are not just a number, but a person. You can do that by directing them to the plethora of information on our website, giving them your email or talking to our coordinator,” said Dr. Kreitz. “But really, we are just people taking care of people. And it’s time they know that.”