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Researchers test liposuction as possible surgical treatment for Type 2 diabetes

Washington University In St Louis : 26 March, 2002  (Technical Article)
Excess abdominal fat increases the risk of hypertension, abnormal blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis want to learn whether removing fat from the mid-section might help reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
“In theory, if excess abdominal fat is related to increased risk for the metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, such as diabetes, abnormal blood lipids and heart disease, removing that fat might eliminate some of the risks,” says Samuel Klein, M.D., the Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science, and one of the study’s principal investigators. “Therefore, removing large amounts of abdominal fat by new liposuction techniques could have considerable medical benefits in addition to its cosmetic effect.”

Klein and the study’s other principal investigator, V. Leroy Young, M.D., the William G. Hamm Professor of Plastic Surgery, plan to study more than 20 obese patients who undergo liposuction surgery to remove abdominal fat.

“We can remove 10 or more pounds of fat from the abdomen of an obese person,” Young explains. “We know patients can benefit from natural loss of fat, but there isn’t anything in the scientific literature to suggest that metabolic improvements will accompany surgical removal of fat.”

Study patients will be evaluated with very sensitive tests prior to liposuction surgery and, again, several weeks after surgery, to determine whether they are resistant to the actions of insulin. Insulin resistance is a key indicator of type 2 diabetes and a marker for other problems related to obesity. If patients are resistant to insulin, removing abdominal fat may make them less resistant.

“We hope surgical fat removal will improve insulin sensitivity improve diabetes and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Klein says.

Study patients must be diabetic and manage their disease either with diet or with oral medications. Patients will be charged for the liposuction surgery, but at a reduced rate, and all other medical procedures and testing as part of the study will be provided free of charge. In addition, patients completing the study will be compensated for their time.
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