Have you ever had a feeling close to vomiting, coupled with a sour or even spicy taste at the back of your throat? It's likely that what you experienced was a case of acid reflux.
Chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is the number one most-treated digestive condition in Australia’s hospitals. In fact, about 8.3% of all Australians experience its symptoms at once per week.
Tired of having a sour taste in your mouth (as well as other more serious symptoms)? We’re here to introduce anti-reflux surgery. This type of surgery is a viable and long-term solution that has helped many patients.
What is Anti Reflux Surgery?
Anti-reflux surgery is a medical procedure that aims to relieve the symptoms caused by acid reflux or GERD.
But what exactly causes acid reflux in the first place?
You see, your body has a muscular ring — known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle exists to prevent stomach acid from entering back up your throat. But when this muscle weakens or relaxes unnaturally, stomach acid can make its way up the throat, leading to an occurrence of acid reflux.
In anti-reflux surgery, surgeons will address the root cause by strengthening this muscular ring or placing a barrier to prevent acid reflux from escaping the stomach and flowing back into your throat.
Signs That You May Need Anti Reflux Surgery
Acid reflux doesn’t just leave a sour taste in your mouth — it can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. Chronic versions of acid reflux can also cause more severe complications down the line.
If you experience the following, you may be in need of anti-reflux surgery:
- Persistent Symptoms: If you continue to experience symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain despite trying conservative treatments, surgery may be warranted.
- Esophageal Damage: If diagnostic tests reveal esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, or other complications resulting from chronic reflux, surgery may be recommended to prevent further damage.
- Ineffectiveness of Lifestyle Changes: When lifestyle modifications like dietary changes, weight loss, and elevating the head of your bed do not provide lasting relief, surgery may offer a more definitive solution.
- Reflux-Related Respiratory Problems: Persistent coughing, wheezing, or recurrent pneumonia associated with reflux could indicate a need for surgical intervention.
Types of Anti Reflux Surgery
In general, surgery to address acid reflux-related conditions aims to either strengthen the muscle ring that prevents stomach acid from flowing up or create a barrier to prevent stomach acid from flowing into the esophagus.
Two common types of anti-reflux surgery are:
Laparoscopic fundoplication is a modern surgical fix for chronic acid reflux troubles, commonly known as GERD. In this procedure, skilled surgeons make tiny incisions in the abdomen and use specialised tools, including a tiny camera called a laparoscope. The goal is to strengthen the weak LES by wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower esophagus.
By doing this it creates a more robust barrier that stops stomach acid from going back up into the esophagus, which is the root cause of reflux symptoms. Patients appreciate the quicker recovery and less post-surgery discomfort that come with this less invasive approach.
Nissen fundoplication is a surgical solution for persistent acid reflux issues like GERD. In this procedure, surgeons take a unique approach by wrapping the top part of the stomach completely around the lower esophagus, forming a protective barrier. This full wrap, like a secure seal, helps keep stomach acid from escaping into the esophagus and causing discomfort.
It's a bit more intensive than some other procedures but often very effective, especially for folks with severe reflux or those who haven't had luck with other treatments. Nissen fundoplication can make a significant difference in improving your daily life when reflux is a constant challenge.
Benefits of Anti Reflux Surgery
Anti-reflux surgery offers a range of substantial benefits for individuals dealing with persistent acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Here's a more formal look at these advantages:
- Symptom Alleviation
Anti-reflux surgery provides effective and enduring relief from disruptive symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and chest discomfort, significantly improving daily comfort.
- Reduced Medication Dependency
Many patients can reduce or completely eliminate their reliance on medications, particularly proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), following surgery.
- Enhanced Quality of Life
Freedom from ongoing reflux symptoms can lead to improved sleep quality, better dietary choices, and an overall more comfortable daily routine.
- Prevention of Complications
Surgery helps prevent or manage complications associated with chronic reflux, such as esophagitis and Barrett's esophagus, reducing the risk of more severe health issues.
- Long-Term Solution
Anti-reflux surgery offers a durable solution, reducing the need for ongoing medical treatments and providing consistent symptom relief.
- Minimal Side Effects
With advancements in minimally invasive techniques, the surgery is associated with fewer side effects, shorter recovery times, and less postoperative discomfort compared to traditional open procedures.
- Expanded Dietary Choices
After surgery, many patients can enjoy a broader range of foods, as the risk of triggering reflux is significantly reduced.
Risks and Considerations
As with any surgery, there are inherent risks. Infection, bleeding, or adverse reactions to anaesthesia are some common examples that apply to most types of surgery. Always discuss these potential complications with your surgeon first to fully understand and prepare for them before making your final decision.
This surgery is also not a magic fix. After the procedure, you'll need to make some lifestyle adjustments, including dietary modifications and changes in eating habits, as instructed by your healthcare professional. Make an effort to adhere to these changes for a continuing successful outcome.
Choosing the Right Surgeon for Anti Reflux Surgery
Anti-reflux surgery can make a big difference in your life. The much-needed relief from the symptoms will definitely be worth it, and you could even save costs in the long run with a reduced reliance on medication.
If you are set on getting the surgery, be sure to have it performed by a qualified and proven surgeon. At Central Coast Surgery, we have a team of surgeons specialising in anti-reflux procedures. Don't let reflux hinder your quality of life any longer – contact us today! Start your journey towards comfort and freedom from reflux symptoms.