You’re not alone if you suffer from the pain and misery of acid reflux. Between 18% and 28% of Americans have the chronic form of acid reflux, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). For them, severe heartburn and other symptoms like a sore throat and difficulty swallowing become a part of their daily life.
If you struggle with acid reflux, you can get long-lasting relief with minimally invasive surgery. The team at Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia in Reston, Virginia, specializes in evaluating your acid reflux and determining if surgery is a good option for you. Here, we address who is a good candidate for anti-reflux surgery.
Initial treatment for acid reflux
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease are known for causing intense heartburn. The first line of treatment for both conditions includes three types of medications: antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
Antacids give you quick relief from heartburn by rapidly neutralizing stomach acid. H2 receptor blockers and PPIs block acid production in your stomach.
PPIs are stronger than H2 receptors. They block acid production longer and give your esophagus time to heal from the damage caused by strong stomach acid. However, long-term PPI use is associated with potential side effects, including a higher risk of fractures.
You can get several brands of antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and PPIs from your local pharmacy. If they don’t help, you may need prescription-strength medications.
Candidates for reflux surgery
You may be a good candidate for surgery when:
- PPIs fail to relieve your acid reflux
- You have a hiatal hernia
- You have esophagitis
- You have Barrett’s esophagus
- You want to stop taking medication
- You’re young and need to avoid long-term PPI use
- You have ongoing symptoms (coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, tooth enamel erosion)
We usually perform a minimally invasive upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy before recommending surgery. During the endoscopy, we guide a slim tube down your throat to the bottom of your esophagus.
The scope has a video camera that sends magnified images to a monitor, so we can examine your esophagus for inflammation, acid damage, and precancerous changes (Barrett’s esophagus). In some cases, we may take the scope into your stomach to check for a hiatal hernia.
About anti-reflux surgery
When you decide to have surgery, we perform today’s gold-standard procedure, a minimally invasive Nissen fundoplication. During your procedure, we repair a hiatal hernia if one is present and strengthen your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between your esophagus and stomach.
A weak LES allows stomach contents to flow up into your esophagus. We solve that problem by wrapping the upper part of your stomach around the LES, tightening the junction, and preventing acid reflux.
Overweight, obesity, and reflux surgery
If you’re significantly overweight or obese, you could qualify for a Nissen fundoplication. However, you may be a good candidate for bariatric surgery. In addition to helping you lose weight, bariatric surgery treats acid reflux.
Carrying too much extra weight causes acid reflux because the weight increases abdominal pressure and forces acid out of your stomach. Additionally, obesity-related hormones weaken the LES. Bariatric surgery treats both problems, giving you relief from acid reflux.
If you suffer from acid reflux or want to learn if you’re a good candidate for surgery, call Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia or book an appointment online today.