Bariatric Surgery May Reverse Diabetes Complications and Help with Peripheral Neuropathy

A research team led by the University of Michigan Health Department of Neurology followed more than 120 patients who underwent bariatric surgery for obesity over two years after the procedure. They found that all metabolic risk factors for developing diabetes, such as high glucose and lipid levels, improved outside of blood pressure and total cholesterol.

They also found that patients two years removed from bariatric surgery showed improvements in peripheral neuropathy.

“Our findings suggest that bariatric surgery likely enables the regeneration of the peripheral nerves and, therefore, may be an effective treatment for millions of individuals with obesity who are at risk of developing diabetes and peripheral neuropathy,” said senior author Brian C. Callaghan, M.D., M.S.

For the study they assessed two primary measures for peripheral neuropathy in patients with obesity by taking skin biopsies that show the nerve fiber density in the thigh and the leg. Two years after bariatric surgery, nerve fiber density improved in the thigh and remained stable in the leg.

“Given the natural history of peripheral neuropathy decline in patients with obesity, even stability in nerve fiber density may be considered a successful result,” said first author Evan Reynolds, Ph.D. “Therefore, our findings of stability of nerve fiber density in the leg and improvement in nerve fiber density at the thigh indicate that bariatric surgery may be a successful therapy to improve or reverse peripheral neuropathy for patients with long-term metabolic impairment.”


Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan. “Bariatric surgery may reverse diabetes complications for people with obesity: Patients saw improvements in primary outcomes for peripheral neuropathy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2023. <>.

Evan L. Reynolds, Maya Watanabe, Mousumi Banerjee, Ericka Chant, Emily Villegas-Umana, Melissa A. Elafros, Thomas W. Gardner, Rodica Pop-Busui, Subramaniam Pennathur, Eva L. Feldman, Brian C. Callaghan. The effect of surgical weight loss on diabetes complications in individuals with class II/III obesity. Diabetologia, 2023; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-023-05899-3

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Photo by Piron Guillaume