Many patients diagnosed with gastric reflux may choose to undergo weight loss surgery to treat the condition. Though it usually isn’t the first or primary treatment option for gastric reflux, when other methods have failed, bariatric surgery may be the right solution.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows through the esophagus back into the mouth, irritating the lining of the esophagus. It’s normal to experience acid reflux once in a while, but reflux that occurs multiple times a week is classified as GERD.
Symptoms of GERD include:
Nighttime symptoms of acid reflux may include chronic cough, laryngitis, sleep disruptions, and new or worsening asthma.
Patients who experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms or take over-the-counter heartburn medication more than twice a week should seek medical attention.
One of the risk factors for GERD is obesity. Excess weight may put pressure on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach and causing acid reflux. Thus weight loss is often a primary goal of treatment. Most patients will experience relief through healthy weight loss, but those who are unable to lose enough weight through diet and exercise may need to undergo weight loss surgery.
Sleeve gastrectomy is a form of bariatric surgery that involves the removal of roughly 85 percent of the stomach and sewing the remainder into a sleeve-like shape. Successful surgery heavily limits the number of calories a patient can eat and decreases feelings of hunger which leads to less overeating and greater long-term weight loss.
The patient will be placed under general anesthesia before the procedure can begin. During surgery, the physician will make five small incisions in the abdomen and insert instruments through the incisions to create a narrow sleeve. The stomach is stapled vertically and the larger, curved part of the stomach is removed. The entire procedure is performed laparoscopically and may take one to two hours.
Patients will awaken in a recovery room and be monitored for any potential complications.
After sleeve gastrectomy, patients will begin a seven-day, sugar-free diet consisting of noncarbonated liquids. They will then progress to pureed foods for three weeks, and finally to regular foods about four weeks after surgery. Patients will need to take a multivitamin twice a day, a calcium supplement once a day, and get a vitamin B-12 injection once a month for the rest of their life.
Patients will undergo frequent medical checkups to monitor their health in the first several months after weight-loss surgery and may need to undergo blood work, laboratory testing, and various exams.
It is normal to experience changes as the body reacts to the rapid weight loss in the first three to six months after sleeve gastrectomy. Patients may experience the following temporary symptoms:
Patients experiencing symptoms of GERD who have not benefited from other treatments should schedule an appointment to find out if they are good candidates for sleeve gastrectomy.
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