GERD/Acid Reflux Surgery

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects an estimated 20% of people in the United States. This condition occurs when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus to cause symptoms including heartburn and throat irritation.

Medications may help reduce some symptoms of GERD, but they are associated with serious side effects including kidney disease, osteoporosis and dementia. Surgery is often the most ideal treatment for GERD, as it is shown to be more effective than medications at reducing symptoms.

Here’s a closer look at what causes GERD, and how Advanced Laparoscopic Associates can treat GERD and help you experience relief from your symptoms.

What Is GERD?

GERD is a condition in which your stomach contents flow back into your esophagus, throat and mouth. Known as acid reflux, these stomach contents can cause a burning sensation in your esophagus and throat.

The foods and drinks you consume flow down the esophagus, through a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into the stomach. The stomach produces strong acids that break down these contents before they move into the small intestine. In GERD, the LES is weakened, which allows your stomach contents to creep back up the esophagus.

Everyone experiences acid reflux from time to time, but if you experience this symptom frequently over several weeks, you may have GERD. When not treated, GERD can lead to serious health problems including cancer. Surgery is one of the most effective treatments for cases of GERD that do not respond to medications and healthy lifestyle changes.

Causes of GERD

GERD is often triggered by the foods you eat. Foods that are high in fat can cause GERD, as well as foods that are spicy or high in acidity. Other risk factors for developing GERD include:

  • Certain medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Certain foods, particularly those that are fried, fatty and spicy
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Scleroderma and other connective tissue disorders
  • Eating large meals
  • Eating late at night before bedtime
  • Hiatal hernia

Hiatal Hernia & GERD

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm into the chest cavity. People over the age of 50 most commonly experience hiatal hernias. Hiatal hernias in children are usually a congenital birth defect. Hiatal hernias almost always cause gastroesophageal reflux and are one of the most common reasons people require surgery as treatment for GERD.

Symptoms of GERD

Heartburn is the primary symptom of GERD and is usually worse at night—especially if you eat large meals shortly before bedtime. Other symptoms of GERD include:

  • Chest pain
  • Chronic coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or liquid
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lung infection
  • Tooth erosion
  • Laryngitis
  • New or worsened asthma

Best and Worst Foods For GERD

The foods and drinks you consume play a major role in GERD and its symptoms. Many times, making healthy changes to your diet can reduce the severity of GERD and make it go away.

The best foods for GERD are those that are high in water content and fiber, and that have a low pH. Examples of foods that can reduce GERD symptoms include ginger, celery and melons.

The worst foods for GERD are those that slow digestion and sit in your stomach for a longer period of time. Examples of foods that can cause or exacerbate GERD include pizza, bread and potato chips.

A doctor or nutritionist who specializes in treating GERD can often help you make healthy changes to your diet that can prevent or treat GERD, and reduce your symptoms.

Diagnosing GERD

Your doctor can usually diagnose GERD by performing a physical examination, reviewing your medical history and talking to you about your symptoms. Your doctor may use certain diagnostic tests to confirm whether you have GERD, including X-ray, endoscopy, pH probe test and esophageal manometry.

An upper endoscopy involves the use of a long, thin tube with a camera that your doctor inserts into your throat to get a more precise look at your throat and stomach. During a pH probe test, your doctor places a small monitor in your esophagus to learn more about the frequency at which you experience acid reflux. An esophageal manometry is a test that measures the rhythmic muscle contractions your esophagus makes when you swallow.

Your doctor will discuss all your available treatment options for GERD after confirming the diagnosis and ruling out other conditions.

GERD Treatment

Surgery is shown to be a safe and effective GERD treatment that produces positive long-term results. Surgeries for GERD include LINX (magnetic sphincter augmentation) and fundoplication. However, like any other medical procedure, laparoscopic acid reflux/GERD surgery does come with some risks. Potential side effects of GERD surgery include difficulty swallowing, abdominal bloating, flatulence and the return of heartburn.


Advanced Laparoscopic Associates is one of the few surgical practices in New Jersey certified to use the revolutionary LINX® Reflux Management System, known simply as LINX. The LINX is a quarter-sized ring of magnetic titanium beads that wraps around the esophagus and reinforces the LES.

LINX was approved by the FDA in 2012. It is implanted laparoscopically and boasts a short hospital stay and low rate of complications. Its short recovery time means an almost immediate improvement in symptoms and a very brief interruption of your daily life.


Fundoplication is an established surgical procedure that strengthens the LES. During this procedure, surgeons wrap the top part of the stomach—called the fundus—around the bottom of the esophagus and suture it in place. This reinforces the LES and prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Most fundoplication procedures are now performed laparoscopically using small incisions, small tools and a flexible camera called a laparoscope that is attached to a video monitor. As a result, the acid reflux/GERD surgery recovery time is very brief, with most patients resuming their usual activities after one week.


Several medicines and medications are available to treat GERD. Antacids may be used to neutralize stomach acids, while H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can help decrease the amount of stomach acid produced.

Medications for GERD may help reduce some, but not all symptoms. They also produce a wide range of side effects including diarrhea and constipation, and treat only the symptoms of GERD rather than its root cause. PPIs are also shown to increase the risk of fractures, chronic kidney disease and early death.

Other Non-Surgical GERD Treatments

Many times, GERD can be improved with a series of healthy lifestyle behaviors. However, you must practice these behaviors consistently to keep GERD symptoms at bay.

Steps you can take to treat GERD without surgery or medications include:

  • Losing excess weight, given how excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen to cause acid reflux
  • Avoiding tight-fitting clothing, as this can also put excess pressure on the abdomen
  • Avoiding foods and beverages that cause acid reflux, such as cheese, fried foods and fatty meats
  • Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly
  • Quitting smoking, as this can interfere with the functioning of the LES
  • Sitting up for at least three hours after eating to avoid acid reflux
  • Elevating the head of your bed, which can reduce or prevent acid reflux at night
  • Drinking herbal teas that contain licorice or chamomile, as these may help reduce symptoms of GERD; consult with your doctor before using herbs to treat GERD, as some herbs can interfere with medications

Request an appointment with one of our surgeons at Advanced Laparoscopic Associates today if you need help managing GERD or want to learn more about surgical treatment for GERD. We can discuss GERD treatment options and find a solution that’s right for you.

Call (201) 646-1121 today and schedule your consultation with one of our surgeons!


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