Experiencing the BURN? All About Heartburn...

Jan 13, 2020

Heartburn.  It’s an issue that many of us, unfortunately, consider a not-so-kind “spice of life.”  gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is the clinical term for heartburn and affects people before (and sometimes after) weight loss surgery.  When a person is overweight, the extra fat present in the abdominal cavity leaves less room for the organs.  When the organs become “crowded-out,” they look for other places to go in order to achieve some space.  When the stomach becomes overcrowded, it can push upwards through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity.  This condition, known as a hiatal hernia, is common amongst overweight individuals and can be easily fixed at the time of surgery. 

You don’t have to have a hiatal hernia to have GERD, however.  GERD occurs when weakened muscles of the diaphragm and esophagus fail to prevent food and stomach acid from refluxing or “backflowing” back into the esophagus.  In addition to the common symptoms of heartburn such as a burning sensation and regurgitation of food or sour liquid, symptoms of GERD can include trouble swallowing, throat clearing, sore throat, wheezing, chronic cough, and chest pain.  If not treated, GERD can lead to esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) and even a more serious condition known as Barrett’s esophagus – an abnormality than can lead to esophageal cancer. 

In some cases, GERD can worsen after some types of bariatric surgery.  If this happens, a conversion to a gastric bypass or additional procedures may be needed to alleviate the condition.  The gastric bypass is considered a treatment for reflux disease.  In any case, SC Obesity Surgery Center is trained to help people with gastroesophageal reflux disease both before and after weight loss surgery.  We conduct an extensive series of tests to determine the severity of a person’s reflux and then choose from a variety of treatment options.  If you are “experiencing the burn,” call us for an appointment with your surgeon.  We want to help you find relief!

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