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Does Lap Band Cause Acid Reflux?

Does Lap Band Cause Acid Reflux?

Many people want to lose unwanted weight, and some may even go through a procedure often known as Lap Band. Lap Band is short for “laparoscopic adjustable gastric band” and basically it is when a device is put around the stomach to reduce the volume in your stomach. It makes two smaller portions of your stomach, the first half is the small pouch and the lower half is the rest of the stomach pouch. Both are separated by the lap band. The band makes you feel fuller faster and can help in losing a lot of weight.  

Lap band surgery can be an effective method for weight loss.

What causes acid reflux in the first place?

But the surgery does come with risks, and some who undergo the procedure may start feeling  pain in their lower chest or upper abdomen area that is aching and feels very much like heartburn. This is acid reflux.

Acid reflux is when acid normally contained in the stomach gets released upward toward the esophagus, the long tube that passes food between the mouth to the stomach.

But is the lap band directly causing the acid reflux? This guide will explore the relationship between lap band and acid reflux so you are better equipped to handle it and if you do decide to seek the help of a medical professional for this issue, then you are better equipped with the knowledge to understand what is going on, and the treatment options.

The stomach contains gastric juices that are very acidic. This acid is namely called hydrochloric acid and it is among other enzymes in the stomach that help to break down food. It is worth noting that as much as three to four liters of gastric juice is pumped out in the stomach at any given day (Cologne, 2009). That is a lot of acid that is being produced in the stomach.

Now couple that with the fact that the stomach is restricted and the volume of the stomach is reduced because of the lap band procedure, then you have a good environment for acid reflux. The acid normally in the stomach has to be displaced elsewhere because the stomach is being squeezed by the lap band, and the natural place it can go is upward toward the esophagus.

Lap Band surgery creates an environment more susceptible to acid reflux.

How Lap Band alters the anatomy surrounding the stomach

There is a muscular valve that is located between the stomach and the esophagus; it is called the esophageal sphincter. The esophageal sphincter is responsible for keeping the contents in the stomach from coming out of the stomach and going to the esophagus.

When this muscle is relaxed, it is opened. But when it is contracted, it is closed. You do not want this muscle to be relaxed when your stomach is churning and there is a lot of acid in there. For some people, this muscle naturally relaxes by itself, which is genetic and is difficult to control.

The lap band procedure can exacerbate this issue and can mess with the esophageal sphincter. This is because the location of the device used in the lap band procedure is closer toward the upper stomach which is adjacent to the esophageal sphincter. The lap band is already squeezing the stomach so the esophageal sphincter feels like it does not need to work as hard to keep the stomach acids in place.

It is also worth noting that the stomach is not a static organ. The stomach moves and it can contract and relax on its own which is how it churns food or pass food from the upper portion to the lower portion down to the small intestines. With the lap band on, the way the stomach churns can be disrupted and cause irregular stomach churning, otherwise known as dysmotility.

This dysmotility causes a high chance of acid reflux occurring. This is especially so if the lap band is too tight. Often the lap band then needs to be decompressed so relieve the stomach. This process of decompressing is something you should talk to your doctor about because it is likely that you may need additional surgery done to fix this issue.

Lap Band and GERD

People can chronically experience this regurgitation of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. If it becomes chronic enough, it can lead to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or more commonly known as GERD. Having GERD means experiencing that pain in the upper abdomen area frequently. And it is a very sharp pain that you want relief from fast because it is acid that is hitting your lower esophagus. The pain can be so bad it is oftentimes called heartburn, but your heart is not really what is affected. For those experiencing chronic acid reflux especially after lap band, relief cannot come sooner.

Some ways to relieve the pain from acid reflux

While the best way is to see a medical professional, there are some things that you can do at home to help relieve the acid reflux. One is to keep away from foods that can be difficult to digest and stay in your stomach for a long period of time. Some examples of these types of food are bread, rice or pasta, so it is smart not to eat those foods for the moment.

Another treatment to acid reflux is with antacid medications. Again it is best to talk to a medical professional about these medications as these medications can have undesirable side effects. These powerful antacid medications can have side effects on your body like renal failure, osteoporosis, magnesium deficiency, and altered gut microbiome.

Conclusion

Lap band does not directly cause acid reflux. But what lap band does it that it worsens the frequency of acid reflux occurring to those who are already prone to it.

Alternatives to lap band are other bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve or duodenal switch. There are many people that have gotten great results with bariatric surgery. If you want to learn more, contact a medical professional today for a consultation.

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Mark Aquino, RN, BSN, MHA.

Author

Mark graduated from West Coast University. He has 3 years of experience as an RN in mental health and home health. He helps people live healthy and peaceful lives and owns a stress relief website.

Gintas Antanavicius, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Medical Reviewer

Dr. G is a co-founder of BariBuilder. A US-based expert surgeon with over 10 years of bariatric experience, he regularly publishes research in medical journals like SOARD, Obesity Surgery, etc.