Is Acid Reflux Improved Or Worsened With Bariatric Surgery?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD affects millions of Americans, many of whom are overweight and obese. Indeed, one of the biggest risk factors for chronic acid reflux is obesity. There are two reasons for this. First, the excess weight, called intra-abdominal pressure, places additional strain on the abdomen, which in turn can push stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Secondly, patients suffering from excess weight may be consuming foods that are high in fat which can also promote reflux.
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As a result of the connection between GERD and obesity, many of our patients wonder if bariatric surgery, in improving obesity related diseases, will also improve or resolve their GERD. The answer is, unfortunately, not straightforward. Bariatric surgery and especially gastric bypass can, in fact help with GERD. This is not only because of the weight loss associated with the procedure, but also because the acid producing part of the stomach is divided from the usable stomach during surgery. The gastric sleeve has shown to improve GERD in some patients and actually worsen it in others. Gastric banding can also cause the patient to develop or worsen acid reflux. Ultimately, the gastric bypass is best for patients that are suffering from GERD despite trying non-surgical options.
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GERD is a condition that can have several causes and consequently its treatment is unique to every individual. Losing weight surgically is just one of these effective ways to improve or eliminate GERD. The bottom line is that when GERD is a major concern to a qualifying obese patient, the gastric bypass may be an excellent option to eliminate both problems. However patients may find that they do not have insurance coverage for bariatric surgery or that they may not qualify for bariatric surgery under the guidelines set by the FDA. In such cases, the GERD can be treated using a minimally invasive procedure called the Nissen Fundoplication.