Laparoscopic Gastric Sleeve (LSG) is a weight loss procedure that surgically removes a portion of the stomach. This reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold and causes the stomach to get full faster and less hungry.

One of the gastric sleeve side effects that some patients suffer post-operatively is acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Unfortunately, with gastric sleeve, acid reflux can develop or worsen due to the restriction that increases gastric pressure while also reducing gastric emptying. Sleeve gastrectomy can improve acid reflux if it is due to excess weight or a hiatal hernia that can be fixed during the operation.

While not everyone experiences acid backflow after gastric sleeve surgery, you may need to seek treatment if it disrupts daily life.

What is Acid Reflux?

When the weakened esophagus muscle, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), is not closing properly, acid rises from the stomach into the esophagus and throat. This can be very uncomfortable and make it impossible to eat food when needed. It can be most prevalent when lying down and can cause significant discomfort.

What is Acid Reflux - Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve

Acid backflow is often referred to as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and is a chronic condition that allows the flow of stomach acid and sometimes bile to flow back up. Patients suffering from GERD typically experience these symptoms more than twice a week, which can dramatically change how daily life is managed.

NERD (non-erosive reflux disease) is a type of GERD without injury to the esophagus.

More than half of all pregnant women have a problem with reflux. Fortunately for those pregnant women, heartburn disappears after pregnancy and is not a serious issue.

Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

GERD is common among individuals with obesity and overweight problem. Visceral fat in the abdomen secretes inflammatory hormones that can cause GERD. It can also be associated with the presence of Hiatal Hernia. Mexico Bariatric Center’s weight loss surgeons routinely look for hernias in patients during surgery and repair them if necessary.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD are used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings. Many symptoms caused by acid reflux can be very uncomfortable for those suffering from this health issue.

  • Heartburn: A burning pain and discomfort that moves up from your stomach to the center of your abdomen, chest area, and in some cases, your neck. This does not in any way affect your heart, despite its name.
  • Regurgitation: Acid can back up into your throat or mouth, producing a sour/bitter taste. In some cases, you may even burp or vomit up some of the contents of your stomach.
  • Dyspepsia: This term is used for stomach discomforts such as burping, nausea after eating, fullness or bloating in the abdomen, upper abdominal pain, and discomfort.

These symptoms can indicate that your esophagus has become inflamed in your stomach acid. This can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause bleeding.

How to Know if You Have Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve?

Acid Reflux after Gastric Sleeve Surgery - Sleeve Gastrectomy

In some cases, acid reflux in patients that have had gastric sleeve surgery can result from some crucial missteps in how they are recovering. Overeating after surgery can cause reflux symptoms, as well as not drinking enough fluids and eating foods that will not be too spicy.

Another possibility is that the individual had some form of reflux before the surgery. The surgery aggravated the situation by reducing the amount of space for the stomach acid to reside. Whatever the case, it is vital that you seek medical attention if you experience any pain or discomfort, such as acid reflux.

When lying down, bending over, or lifting a heavy object, or after eating a heavy meal, acid reflux may very well occur. The times at which you experience reflux symptoms can vary depending on personal circumstances. However, many do experience symptoms at night.

Treatment Options for Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve

Diet and Medication

Treatment for acid reflux that has been caused by sleeve gastrectomy is often a combination of dietary changes and over-the-counter medications. Proper diet and meal plans can help reduce heartburn symptoms. Among the different medications are several options for the type of assistance. Antacids contain a neutralizing effect on stomach acid; some anti-reflux drugs reduce acid production itself, and others block the production of acid.

Proton pump inhibitors, like Omeprazole, can be useful in the early stages of acid reflux while also healing the esophagus. If these do not produce lasting results, a physician can prescribe stronger drugs that might provide better and longer-lasting relief.

Surgical Revision

RNY gastric bypass patients have fewer problems with heartburn and GERD. Duodenal Switch (DS) has the same issues with heartburn as the gastric sleeve. If the heartburn problem continues, a revisional surgery from gastric sleeve to Roux-en-Y bypass is necessary.

The physician can start to help you immediately before the condition worsens. The longer that a person suffers from it, the more likely they will be to do damage that can linger for some time.

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