Surgery for Acid Reflux Disease – What, When and How?

Acid reflux

Acid reflux disease commonly called as GORD/GERD – Gastro oesophageal reflux disease is a common gastrointestinal condition that happens when stomach acid refluxes back into the esophagus, causing symptoms of heartburn or regurgitaion and potential damage to the lining of the foodpipe 

Acid reflux surgery aims to address the root causes of persistent reflux symptoms and provide lasting relief. This comprehensive guide will explore the procedure, the underlying causes and symptoms of acid reflux, and the recovery process following surgery.   

Understanding the intricacies of acid reflux surgery is essential for individuals considering this option and those seeking a deeper insight into managing Acid reflux 

What is Acid Reflux, and How Does it Affect the Body?

Acid reflux, medically termed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), happens when the contents in the stomach flow back into the oesophagus. Normally, a circular muscle called the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES) is like a barrier between the stomach and the oesophagus, preventing acid from travelling upwards.  

However, this muscle weakens or relaxes abnormally in individuals with acid reflux.  

The effects of acid reflux can differ from person to person, but they often include heartburn – that uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest. This burning sensation is a resut of stomach acid irritating the lining of the oesophagus. Other symptoms may be regurgitation of food or liquid into your mouth, difficulty swallowing, chronic coughing or wheezing, hoarseness in your voice, and even chest pain.  

If left untreated for prolonged periods, acid reflux can cause more serious complications such as Barrett’s oesophagus (a precancerous condition), narrowing of the oesophagus due to scarring from repeated inflammation (strictures), and respiratory problems like asthma or pneumonia.  

Acid Reflux Surgery Type

When it comes to acid reflux surgery types, there are several procedures available.  

The most common type is fundoplication, in which the surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach around the lower oesophagal sphincter to strengthen it and prevent the acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. Depending on the extent of wrapping the fundoplication is termed as Total (360 degrees) or Partial (180, 270 etc.). Any hiatal hernia if present is repaired at the same time of surgery. 

Another option is a procedure called LINX, where a small magnetic ring is placed around the lower end of the oesophagus to help keep the sphincter closed. This enables the food and liquid to pass through while preventing reflux.  This involves a surgical approach like the fundoplication but does not involve much dissection etc. The results are encouraging but it has been variably accepted around the world. 

There’s also an endoscopic procedure known as Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF), which uses a special device inserted through your mouth to create folds in the tissue at the base of your oesophagus. These folds help reinforce the valve between your stomach and the oesophagus. It does not involve any surgery but is not widely accepted/practiced all over the world due to its complexity and lack of long-term outcomes.  

Each of these acid reflux surgery types has its own benefits and considerations, so it’s important to consult with a doctor who specializes in acid reflux surgery to determine which one is best for you.  

Acid Reflux Surgery Procedure: Step by Step Process ( Fundoplication)

Having a clear understanding of the acid reflux surgery procedure is essential. This surgical intervention aims to treat severe cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that don’t respond well to other treatments. So, what does the acid reflux surgery procedure involve?  

  • The first step is a comprehensive evaluation by a medical professional specializing in gastrointestinal disorders. They will assess your symptoms, conduct diagnostic tests such as an endoscopy, barium swallow or pH monitoring, and determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.  This is the most important part of the journey, and it is vital that you see the right physician, surgeon who has the expertise and experience to advise if surgery may help you or otherwise. Improper selection leads to bad outcomes and misery for the patient who may have had a technically good operation but did not need one in the first place. 
  • If you are deemed eligible for acid reflux surgery, the next step involves making small incisions in your abdomen or chest. These tiny openings allow for the insertion of surgical instruments and a miniature camera called a laparoscope.  
  • An assessment is made to determine if the patient has a hiatal hernia.   The surgeon then  dissects around the esophageal hiatus to bring down an optimal length of the esophagus (3 cm) into the stomach.  The hiatus was then closed to prevent the stomach moving back up into the chest. 
  • The next part of the surgery is the actual fundoplication.  During this process, they wrap part of the upper stomach around the LES to strengthen its function and reduce acid reflux symptoms further.  
  • After completing these steps, surgeons close any incisions made during the procedure using stitches or adhesive strips. Depending on individual factors, most patients can expect their operation to last anywhere from one to three hours.  
  • Remember that each patient’s experience with acid reflux surgery may vary slightly based on their specific condition and chosen surgical approach.  

Acid Reflux Surgery Recovery

Recovering from acid reflux surgery is a crucial phase in the overall treatment process. It allows your body to heal and adjust to the changes made during the procedure.  

  • Immediately after the acid reflux surgery, you will be monitored closely by medical professionals. Pain medication and intravenous fluids may be administered to ensure comfort and hydration. It is common to experience soreness or discomfort at the incision sites for a few days.  
  •  You most likely to be discharged after surgery 
  • In terms of diet, you will typically start with clear liquids and gradually progress towards a soft food diet over time. Your surgeon or nutritionist will provide specific recommendations based on your individual needs.  
  • It’s important to follow all post-operative instructions your healthcare team provides, including any prescribed medications and exercises. Proper self-care during this recovery period will significantly contribute to positive outcomes.  
  • During the initial weeks following surgery, avoiding strenuous activities or heavy lifting is advisable as these can strain your healing incisions. Regular follow-up with the surgeon will allow them to monitor your progress and address concerns.  
  •   You may be able to stop your medications which you take for reflux prior to surgery approximately one-week after the operation.  Relief from reflux symptoms is usually immediate after surgery. 

Acid reflux and obesity

People who are overweight or obese male suffer from reflux symptoms as excessive weight is unknown condition which can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease. 

  • In patients who are obese over a certain cut off value (BMI greater than 35) it is important that they lose weight to get the BMI lower before performing a fundoplication. 
  •  However, in patients who are at a BMI over 35 or over 40 another form of surgery for gastroesophageal reflux in the form of a gastric bypass may be advised.  This is a specialized procedure which helps weight loss and cure reflux.  However, this can be done only by experts in the field who are also trained to do bariatric surgery. 
  •  It is therefore important that you see the most appropriate professional who has the expertise and experience in dealing with these issues and choosing the right treatment modality to suit you and give best outcomes in terms of weight loss and cure of reflux. 

Consult Dr. Balaji for acid reflux surgery.

Dr. Balaji specializes in acid reflux surgery   And weight loss surgeryand provides the highest quality care for their patients. His expertise, combined with state-of-the-art technology, ensures successful outcomes and improved quality of life for those who undergo this procedure.  

If you’re ready to take control of your acid reflux symptoms and find long-lasting relief, don’t hesitate to consult Dr Balaji today! You can explore the best treatment plan tailored to your needs. Don’t let acid reflux hold you back any longer – schedule your consultation now and start your journey towards a healthier future! 

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