Gastric Sleeve and Heartburn: Patient Information

February 21, 2015 — by Fernando Garcia
Tags: Gastric Sleeve Acid Reflux

A woman with her doctorBoth Dr. Fernando Garcia and Dr. David Vazquez are leading weight loss surgery specialists who serve patients at their state-of-the-art facility in Tijuana. One of the bariatric procedures that they believe in a great deal is gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy), a low maintenance, less invasive option for weight loss. Even though they feel that gastric sleeve is one of the ideal solutions out there, it is not always the best fit for everyone who wishes to undergo bariatric surgery. With that in mind, we want to consider how heartburn can play a factor in determining a patient's suitability for gastric sleeve.

Heartburn Can Be the Result of Obesity and Morbid Obesity

Heartburn (aka acid reflux and GERD) can be uncomfortable and painful, and it's usually brought on by certain foods. Yet medical findings have noted that being obese or morbidly obese can increase the risk of heartburn occurring. The exact reason for this has yet to be fully identified, but experts suggest that the excess fat around the abdominal region may cause excessive pressure buildup on the stomach, leading to attacks of heartburn.

By that logic, bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric sleeve should be able to address heartburn. Yet matters are more complicated than that.

Can gastric sleeve help reverse issues with heartburn?

Interestingly enough, the answer is not necessarily.

As we noted in a previous post on this blog, gastric sleeve can potentially make acid reflux more likely in certain patients.

Why is this the case?

A study last year published in JAMA Surgery looked at 39,000 patients who underwent bariatric surgery. While gastric bypass was considered most effective at addressing heartburn, the study found that people with no history of heartburn prior to gastric sleeve surgery were more likely to develop heartburn after the procedure.

The reason for this has to do with the nature of gastric sleeve surgery. Since heartburn is caused by heavy meals that force gastric fluids up the esophagus, decreasing the stomach size as gastric sleeve can make the condition more likely.

What does this mean for potential gastric sleeve patients?

If a patient suffers from heartburn or shows a likelihood for potentially developing heartburn prior to weight loss surgery, we will be more likely to suggest a different bariatric procedure rather than gastric sleeve. This will allow the patient to lose weight while not increasing the risk of heartburn and other complications.

Preventing Heartburn After Gastric Sleeve

If you do undergo gastric sleeve surgery, there are several things that you can do to prevent heartburn from occurring or being a potential problem:

  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco
  • Avoid or be wary of spicy foods
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid overeating
  • Reduce consumption of caffeine
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing

If you do suffer heartburn, taking antacids is helpful. Try to be attuned to what caused the heartburn to occur and consider lifestyle modifications that can prevent it from happening in the future.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Fernando Garcia and Dr. David Vazquez

For more information about bariatric procedures and how you can achieve a more ideal body mass and better health, be sure to contact our team of weight loss surgeons today. The team at Tijuana Bariatrics looks forward to your visit and helping you make the best decisions regarding your health and wellness.