Weight-loss surgery is never anyone's first choice, but if you are extremely obese and have type 2 diabetes, it may be an option to consider. It is not a decision to be made lightly. There is a small risk of dying during surgery (though some procedures have a lower risk than others), and you may need to radically change the way you consume food for the rest of your life.

After some types of surgery, you'll need to eat small portions of food or risk nausea and vomiting. In addition, you may need to take vitamins and supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

However, if you have not been able to lose weight and are suffering from diabetes, you could be a candidate for bariatric surgery, says Larry Deeb, MD, a past president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association.

A 2004 review of more than 130 studies found that bariatric (weight-loss) surgery caused obese people to lose between 40.7% and 73.9% of their excess weight (depending on the specific surgery done). For people with type 2 diabetes who had the surgery, the diabetes was reversed completely in 77% of patients and reversed or improved in 86% of patients.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases you may be a candidate for the surgery if you have:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more—about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds for women (see BMI calculator below)
  • A BMI between 35 and 39.9 and a serious obesity-related health problem such as type 2 diabetes. To find your BMI, check this calculator.

Surgery can include operations that restrict the stomach, such as stomach stapling and gastric banding, or more complicated procedures such as gastric bypass or biliopancreatic diversions.