If eating or drinking leaves you feeling apprehensive about when your acid reflux symptoms will strike next, it’s time for you to see a doctor about acid reflux surgery. No medical professional expects a patient to go blindly into a procedure without knowing what will happen and what they might experience.
As with any surgery, you should ask your doctor to explain in layman’s terms what will happen during your acid reflux surgery, so you feel like you have all the information. This will also help you to prepare for the procedure. There are several surgical options for acid reflux, so ask your doctor which one they recommend for you and how that option compares to the others.
Here are the top 9 questions that you should ask before undergoing acid reflux surgery.
1. Do I need acid reflux surgery?
Acid reflux or GERD doesn’t usually require surgery. But in severe cases, your doctor may recommend it after trying other treatments. Surgery is a drastic option and is usually considered a last resort after trying other treatments.
Ask your doctor if you think your acid reflux is severe enough to warrant surgery or if you might improve with medication, diet, or lifestyle changes. Doctors usually encourage patients to make changes to their diet or to try to lose weight as a first recourse. The next step is usually medication to manage acid reflux symptoms. If these aren’t successful, surgery is the next step.
2. How long is acid reflux surgery?
Ask your doctor about the timeline of the operation and how long you can expect to be in a medical facility. Some surgeries are performed as outpatient procedures, while others require a longer hospital stay. This is important to know for many reasons, including planning your own schedule.
Minimally invasive acid reflux surgeries are generally outpatient procedures that are done with laparoscopic practices and instruments and take several hours. Open or conventional procedures that require multiple, large incisions and complex surgical practices take several hours to complete.
3. How can I prepare for acid reflux surgery?
Preparing for surgery is critical not only to its success but also for your safety. Many surgeries require patients not to eat or drink anything, including taking medications, for up to 12 hours beforehand. Make sure you ask your doctor what you need to do to be ready and how long before your surgery you will need to prepare.
The most common type of acid reflux surgery is called fundoplication. Preparing for this procedure involves following a clear liquid diet for two days beforehand and taking special medication the day before.
4. How soon will I notice improvements in my symptoms?
In general, acid reflux surgery carries a high rate of success. The majority of patients show significant improvements after their operation. Still, it is worth asking your doctor how soon you can expect to feel better after your surgery. The answer could range from a few days to a few weeks, depending on many factors — including the severity of your acid reflux.
5. What are your acid reflux surgery qualifications?
When meeting with your surgeon before the operation, ask them about their experience. You should learn about their qualifications, the number of surgeries performed in the past, and their outcomes. While they can’t divulge specific details, they can provide you with enough information so you can gauge your comfort and confidence level in having them perform your operation.
6. Are there complications with acid reflux surgery?
In general, acid reflux surgery does not carry a high risk of complications. However, like any operation, there is always a small chance for patients. Before scheduling the procedure, candidates learn of their individual risks from their surgeon.
In most cases, complication risks are dependent on various factors, such as the severity of your acid reflux, your age, and other health conditions. Complication risks for acid reflux surgery include allergic reactions to anesthesia, nausea, vomiting, infections of your incision, soreness (especially if a scope was used), urinary retention, or severe or chronic pain.
7. What can I expect after surgery?
Your acid reflux recovery is highly dependent on the type of surgery you have and other factors. In most cases, minimally invasive or laparoscopic acid reflux surgery patients can go home on the same day and only need to rest for a week or two before returning to work and their normal activities. Traditional or open surgery patients require a brief hospital stay. If you are having open acid reflux surgery, you should plan to be out of commission for six weeks or longer. Ask your doctor what you can expect in your situation.
8. Do I need to change my lifestyle after acid reflux surgery?
To reduce the risk of needing further treatment, you may need to implement certain lifestyle changes before and after your operation. Like most other things, this depends on your specific situation, including the severity of your acid reflux.
Ask your doctor if you should follow a certain diet, continue to take medication, or try to lose weight to improve your long-term gut health.
9. Do I need to keep seeing a doctor after my procedure?
Acid reflux surgery has a high rate of success, but it isn’t the last treatment you will ever receive. Ask your doctor what happens next in terms of medication and follow-up care. Patients are required to attend several aftercare appointments so their doctor can monitor their post-operative progress and ensure their acid reflux symptoms have improved.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.