Treating Acid Reflux – Surgery Or Medication?

Acid reflux can be incredibly uncomfortable, but there’s oftentimes more to the condition than just physical discomfort. Untreated acid reflux can lead to a number of different issues for your stomach and esophagus, including increasing your risk of cancer. You know you need to treat the condition, but you may not be sure whether to pursue medications or a corrective procedure.

We can take a closer look at your condition and walk you through some treatment options that are appropriate for your situation. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at when medications and when surgery are appropriate management strategies for patients dealing with acid reflux.

The Best Treatment Options For Acid Reflux

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the signs that a conservative or an operative approach is right for your acid reflux situation. Of course, the right determination for you will be made by a professional who can view your injuries in person.

In the vast majority of cases, your gastrointestinal specialist will recommend that you first pursue a combination of non-operative techniques. If a surgery can be avoided, this is the preferred route, because surgery oftentimes carries additional risks. Medications are one of the most common conservative care techniques, and they tend to work in one of two ways:

  • Stomach Acid Reduction – Certain medications work by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. If there’s less acid in your stomach, it’s less likely that it will make its way back up into your esophageal canal.
  • Acid Potency Reduction – Other medications work by reducing the potency of your stomach acid. It may still make its way up into your esophageal canal, but the acid will not cause as much irritation for your sensitive esophageal lining.

Both of these medications can prove beneficial, but they won’t be a stand alone option. Medications will oftentimes be paired with dietary adjustments, weight loss and increased physical activity to help improve the digestive process and cut down on uncomfortable reflux. If your doctor believes that conservative techniques may prove effective in reducing or eliminating acid reflux, medications and lifestyle adjustments will be the likely course of action.

Conversely, surgery is typically reserved for patients with severe cases of acid reflux, or for patients who have pursued weeks of conservative care without relief. There are a few different surgical procedures that can be performed, with the most common being a fundoplication operation. This procedure sees the surgeon wrap the top of the stomach around a portion of the lower esophagus. This helps to reinforce the esophageal sphincter, making it much less likely that stomach acid makes its way back into the esophageal canal. Many patients experience immense relief with this technique.

Another possible option that is offered by Dr. Bhatti and his team is the LINX procedure. This involves the insertion of a small band of titanium beads that help to reinforce your esophageal sphincter. It is less invasive than a fundoplication, and can easily be removed if there is ever an issue with the device. It’s is becoming a much more popular option for acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease management, and Dr. Bhatti would be more than happy to discuss the procedure and recovery timeline with you should it be an option for your situation.

So at the end of the day, lifestyle changes and medications tend to be the first line of defense for acid reflux, and if this fails, then surgery can typically yield the desired result. If you need help getting your acid reflux under control, or you need assistance with a different gastrointestinal issue, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and his team today at (952) 368-3800.