Heartburn and other gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms (e.g., vomiting, difficulty swallowing, chronic coughing/wheezing) are caused by a problem in the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus, or in the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach. When these muscles don’t close tightly, stomach acid can travel back up through the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the area between your ribs or just below your neck.
If you are suffering from heartburn, you might first try making some lifestyle changes and/or investigating drug therapy, such as antacids to neutralize stomach acids or other medications to reduce the amount of stomach acid being produced. If these methods do not relieve your symptoms, the next stage of treatment is anti-reflux surgery. Dr. Tom Umbach, a board-certified general surgeon, offers anti-reflux surgery in addition to weight loss surgery in Las Vegas at his practice, Blossom Bariatrics.
What is Anti-Reflux Surgery?
Anti-reflux surgery repairs the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). A normal LES functions as a one-way valve, enabling food to pass through the esophagus into the stomach, and preventing food / stomach acid from traveling back up through the esophagus. A faulty LES allows acid to flow back up through the stomach into the lower esophagus, causing heartburn and eventual damage to the esophagus.
Anti-reflux surgery is a safe procedure that usually takes two to three hours. You will be put under general anesthesia so you won’t feel anything during surgery. Dr. Umbach may recommend you stay in the hospital or surgical center for a day or two as you recover from the operation. Full recovery takes anywhere from two to six weeks. Anti-reflux surgery is generally very successful, but you may need to continue to take heartburn medication afterward.
Nissen Fundoplication is the most common type of anti-reflux surgery. During Nissen Fundoplication, Dr. Umbach tightens the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. Performed laparoscopically (i.e., in a minimally invasive method) when medically appropriate, the Nissen Fundoplication involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lowest part of the esophagus. This creates pressure at the end of the esophagus, preventing stomach acid and food from flowing back up.
For a small number of clients, the laparoscopic method is not appropriate. Factors that could preclude someone from qualifying for laparoscopic surgery include obesity and history of prior abdominal surgery. Dr. Umbach will discuss your medical history, and determine whether laparoscopic surgery is a safe option for you, during a surgical consultation.
Learn More about Anti-Reflux Surgery
If you are experiencing chronic heartburn or other GERD symptoms, you may be a suitable candidate for anti-reflux surgery. To learn more about the procedure and determine whether it is suitable for your needs, please contact Las Vegas surgeon Tom Umbach at Blossom Bariatrics by calling 855-BLOSSOM (256-7766).