Mitigating the symptoms of acid reflux might include medical and pharmacological treatments, but often when one does not respond to any other medications, and the condition keeps getting worse, acid reflux surgery can be the only option.
Generally, doctors turn to surgery as a last resort since it is important to investigate the first line of treatment before eventually prescribing a surgical procedure (e.g. Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication). This medical condition has a very recurrence character, and while the surgery is expensive, many people are still undergoing such invasive treatment because it means complete recovery from the disease.
When do you need reflux surgery?
For people with chronic cases of acid reflux, acid reflux surgery is recommended, but it is also appropriate for other patients with less severe symptoms of the disease.
The first thing you should do is to try to manage your reflux with a diet for acid reflux and lifestyle changes. When done properly, this helps to the majority of patients and no medications or surgery is required.
If changing your diet doesn’t help, you should consult with a doctor and use long-term medications that can relieve the symptoms.
If medications don’t help – or if you don’t want to take long-term medications – surgery remains your last option.
The good news is that reflux can be very successfully cured with surgery, the bad news is that it’s quite expensive. Make sure you discuss all aspects of the procedure with your doctor.
What kind of surgery is done for acid reflux?
Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is ideally suited for people with:
- no prior abdominal surgeries
- people with low hiatal hernias without GERD complications
- and people with no reflux symptoms while lying down
The operation most often performed is called a fundoplication (usually a fundoplication by Nissen, named after the surgeon who first identified this procedure at the end of the 1950s).
This type of surgery involves tightening up the esophagus walls in the region adjacent to the stomach, thus raising the lower esophageal sphincter pressure. By increasing the pressure between the esophagus and the stomach at the point of union, acid reflux surgery prevents upward regurgitation of the stomach material, within the esophagus and throat.
The procedure used in surgery for acid reflux includes tightening of the esophageal valve. The valve would thus be able to close the esophagus effectively, preventing the gastric acid reflux within it.
Intraluminal endoscopic reflux surgery requires virtually the same surgical treatments but is done via an endoscope. This method of acid reflux surgery is very fast, with minimal risks. After this type of acid reflux surgery, most patients recover easily and typically do not need post-operative care.
Acid reflux surgery can be done easily, safely, and efficiently thanks to medical advances and the plethora of modern therapies available these days.
What’s the procedure like?
The purpose of a fundoplication is to reinforce the LES to recreate the barrier that prevents reflux. This is achieved by wrapping a portion of the stomach around the bottom of the esophagus to strengthen, raise, or rebuild the LES valve.
Currently, antireflux procedures are conducted using a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy.
The technique uses a small camera-like tube and many long, thin instruments. In the operating room, multiple small (less than 1 cm or 1⁄2 inch) incisions on the abdominal wall insert the camera and instruments into the abdominal.
The procedure is then conducted with camera magnification in the abdominal cavity. The benefit of this form of minimally invasive procedure is that it leads to reduced discomfort, shorter hospital stays, a quicker return to work, fewer scares, and lower risk of further injury and hernia.
How successful is the surgery?
Acid reflux surgery has a high rate of success. Acid reflux surgery relieves symptoms for about 95 percent of cases that people do not require drugs afterward. Studies after more than five years of surgery indicate that change in symptoms persists for the long term.
How much does reflux surgery cost?
The cost for reflux surgery starts around $10,000, but can be way higher than this. The price depends on factors like your condition, the hospital, your insurance , the method chosen, etc.
If you are considering surgery, only your doctor will be able to give you a fairly good estimate as prices vary widely.
Unfortunately it’s safe to say, that reflux surgery is a fairly expensive treatment.
How long does it take to recover?
The recovery is slightly different for each form of operation but mostly depends on whether the procedure is laparoscopic or conventional.
While laparoscopic therapy has quicker recovery time and less pain than conventional treatment, it may not be appropriate for everyone with GERD.
Your physician and surgeon will determine which method is best for you. The most popular option is fundoplication surgery.
The traditional or open procedure takes about a week in the hospital and about six weeks before you can return to work. The Fundoplication laparoscopic operation only takes a few days in the hospital, and the patient will go back to work after a week. During this less invasive treatment, there is also less discomfort.