Why Surgery Might Be Necessary to Get Relief From Acid Reflux

The discomfort of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is impossible to ignore. Chronic heartburn, chest pain, trouble swallowing, and tasting the bitterness of food you’ve already eaten coming back up are enough to cause you to dread eating or drinking anything. 

Michael Sutker, MD, PA, with offices in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, offers a wide range of GERD treatments, depending on your symptom severity. Many patients are surprised to learn that popular medications for GERD reduce the acidity of the reflux itself, but the frequency of reflux experiences remains unaffected. 

If you’re searching for a long-term solution for your GERD, it’s time to learn about the safe surgical options that Dr. Sutker provides. He approaches your care with both vast experience and compassion. 

How GERD affects your body

GERD starts when your stomach acid flows backward into your esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach). This shouldn’t happen, and when it does, the acid starts to aggravate the lining of your esophagus.

The levels of GERD

Occasional reflux is managed fairly easily by tweaking habits, like maintaining a healthy weight, remaining upright after eating, and slowing down when you eat and chew. Avoiding dietary choices that are linked to GERD, like fatty and acidic foods, chocolate, and soft drinks, can help as well. 

If these steps don’t do the trick, Dr. Sutker often prescribes medications, but for some GERD persists. 

Severe GERD isn’t just uncomfortable, it poses real risk. If you ignore GERD for too long, you can sustain permanent esophageal damage or put yourself at risk for a condition called Barret’s esophagus, increasing your chances of esophageal cancer. 

Surgical solutions for GERD

If your GERD is severe, Dr. Sutker considers surgically repairing or replacing the valve at the bottom of your esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES), so acid is prevented from flowing in the wrong direction. 

Dr. Sutker may need to address a hiatal hernia, if you have one. This is when pressure causes the top part of your stomach to actually push through the small opening in your diaphragm (the hiatus), into your chest. 

Fortunately, you have several surgical choices, all of which are minimally invasive:

Nissen fundoplication anti-reflux surgery 

With this procedure, Dr. Sutker crafts an entirely new valve at the top of your stomach that halts acid’s entry into your esophagus.

Dr. Sutker wraps part of your stomach around the bottom of your esophagus which effectively redesigns your LES valve, making it stronger and better able to prevent acid from ending up where it shouldn’t. Not only do you notice the immediate absence of GERD symptoms, you can bid a permanent farewell to your GERD medication.

The surgery is done laparoscopically, and Dr. Sutker uses the innovative da Vinci® robotic technology, a state-of-the-art tool that enhances his ability to perform surgery with even greater precision. 

After a 1-2 night hospital stay, you follow a liquid diet for the first couple of weeks post-surgery, progressing to a soft food regimen for the following several weeks. No foods are off-limits after recovery. 

LINX® Reflux Management System 

This procedure is ideal for patients who want to eliminate their reflux, since nearly half of GERD patients struggle with symptoms despite the fact that they take medication. 

The Linx system revolves around a small group of titanium beads which contain magnets and are held together by titanium wire. Dr. Sutker implants the LINX device, which is approximately the size of a quarter, around your affected esophageal sphincter.

The magnetic power the LINX beads produce causes your esophageal sphincter to remain closed when it would usually be open, allowing acid to enter. When you swallow, the bead ring expands just long enough to allow what you’re ingesting into your stomach. 

This laparoscopic procedure takes less than an hour. You typically go home within one day, and can begin eating a regular diet soon after, under Dr. Sutker’s advice. 

Gastric bypass surgery 

Also known as Roux-en-Y, this procedure is the preferred course of treatment for obese patients suffering with chronic GERD. This bariatric procedure involves Dr. Sutker fashioning a small pouch from your stomach and attaching it to your small intestine. After surgery, you can’t eat any more than a cup or two of food at a time, and anything you eat or drink is routed so that you don’t experience GERD. 

No matter which procedure you and Dr. Sutker decide is best for you, you’re seen by a gastroenterologist and undergo tests to reveal how well your esophagus is functioning, how much acid is present, and how inflamed your esophagus and stomach are. Only then does Dr. Sutker proceed with his treatment plan.

To find out if surgery can provide you with real relief from the burning and pain of GERD, call our office most convenient for you or book an appointment online today.