Gastric Sleeve and Acid Reflux (GERD): Facts Patients Should Know

September 17, 2014 — by Fernando Garcia
Tags: Gastric Sleeve Acid Reflux

A man suffers from stomach painDr. Fernando Garcia's weight loss surgery practice in Tijuana has attracted patients from the United States because of its reputation for excellent care. Over the last few months, we have written a great deal about gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy), an effective option for surgical weight loss. It has many benefits over other weight loss surgeries, though in some cases it may not be ideal for certain patients.

With that in mind, we want to consider the relationship between gastric sleeve surgery and acid reflux (GERD).

About Acid Reflux (GERD)

To understand acid reflux, it's important to go over the basics of how the digestive tract works.

A ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is located at the opening of the stomach. The LES closes when food and beverages pass through it. If the LES does not close, acid from your stomach can travel up into the esophagus resulting in pain and discomfort. That burning sensation and chest pain is the reason that people have also called acid reflux "heartburn".

Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux

The most common signs and symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive burping
  • Bloating
  • Pain in the chest
  • Pain in the upper abdomen

Can gastric sleeve surgery help relieve acid reflux (GERD)?

While certain bariatric surgeries have shown a certain amount of effectiveness when it comes to the treatment of acid reflux, studies have found that gastric sleeve is not necessarily effective at addressing acid reflux. In fact, in some cases gastric sleeve may result in patients developing issues with acid reflux.

What a Recent Study Has Found

Published in a February issue of the journal JAMA Surgery, a study of almost 39,000 bariatric surgery patients noted various findings with regard to acid reflux. Gastric bypass proved the most effective means of reducing the severity of acid reflux or eliminating cases of acid reflux in patients with a history of GERD.

Gastric sleeve showed little effectiveness, however. In addition, roughly 1 in 11 gastric sleeve patients without a history of GERD reported cases of acid reflux after the surgery was performed.

Why Gastric Sleeve Can Potentially Make Acid Reflux (GERD) Worse

One of the common causes of acid reflux is eating large and/or heavy meals. Since gastric sleeve surgery involves shrinking of the stomach size, the possibility of acid reflux becomes more likely.

In such cases, acid reflux can be prevented by gastric sleeve patients if they eat slowly, savor their food, and avoid overeating. By understanding the new nature of your appetite and at what point you become full, issues such as acid reflux can be avoided.

Preventing Acid Reflux (GERD) Through Careful Patient Evaluation

These new studies actually mean a way that we can make the weight loss surgery process even better for patients. During the consultation process, we will be sure to assess a patient's medical history. If a patient has a history of acid reflux, a bariatric option other than gastric sleeve surgery will be recommended instead.

With the above in mind, we still do believe that the gastric sleeve is an excellent procedure given its many benefits, low maintenance, and limited risks. For most patients, the gastric sleeve offers a better option for achieving an ideal weight than gastric sleeve and gastric banding.

Schedule a Visit with Dr. Fernando Garcia

To learn more about bariatric procedures from a tried and true specialist in advanced procedures and their implementation, be sure to contact our weight loss surgery center today. When you meet with Dr. Garcia for a consultation, he will answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns in full detail so that you can make a confident decision about your needs.