Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a prevalent gastrointestinal condition characterised by the backward flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation. As changing lifestyles keep tampering with health factors, a strong association has been highlighted between obesity and GERD, shedding light on the intricate interplay between weight and digestive health.
In this blog, the important link between obesity and GERD has been put in the limelight and discussed how GERD laparoscopic surgery may offer relief for those afflicted by this challenging condition.

Understanding the Link Between Obesity and GERD in a Nutshell

As per a renowned surgeon, who specialised in GERD laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Purnendu Bhowmik, some of the factors shed light on establishing a connection between obesity and GERD.

  • Increased abdominal pressure

Excess weight, especially visceral fat around the abdomen, can exert pressure on the stomach and lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), leading to dysfunction and allowing acid reflux to occur more easily.

  • Altered hormone levels

Adipose tissue secretes hormones and inflammatory substances that can disrupt the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, contributing to GERD symptoms.

  • Delayed gastric emptying

Obesity is associated with delayed gastric emptying, prolonging the time during which stomach acid can reflux into the oesophagus, exacerbating GERD symptoms.

  • Dietary factors

Obesity is often linked to poor dietary habits, including high-fat and high-calorie intake, as well as excessive consumption of acidic and spicy foods, all of which can trigger or worsen GERD symptoms.

Comprehending the Role of Weight Loss Surgery in Managing GERD

  • Improved Symptom Control

Laparoscopic fundoplication provides long-term relief from GERD symptoms by reconstructing the weakened lower oesophagal sphincter (LES) to prevent acid reflux. This helps alleviate heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain, leading to improved quality of life.

  • Reduced Medication Dependence

Patients with obesity and GERD often rely on medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to manage symptoms. However, long-term PPI use is associated with potential side effects and may not provide adequate symptom control. GERD surgery reduces the need for medication, decreasing the risk of adverse effects and ensuring sustained relief.

  • Resolution of Comorbidities

Obesity is a risk factor for several comorbid conditions, including hiatal hernias, Barrett’s oesophagus, and oesophagal strictures, which can exacerbate GERD symptoms. Laparoscopic fundoplication not only addresses GERD but also addresses associated conditions, reducing the overall burden on the patient’s health.

  • Weight Loss Facilitation

Laparoscopic GERD surgery can serve as a catalyst for weight loss in obese patients. By addressing GERD symptoms and improving dietary habits post-surgery, patients may experience gradual weight loss, which further contributes to symptom improvement and overall health benefits.

  • Minimally Invasive Approach

Laparoscopic surgery offers several advantages over traditional open surgery, particularly for obese patients. It involves smaller incisions, reduced postoperative pain, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery times, enabling patients to resume normal activities sooner.

Final Takeaway

In understanding gastrointestinal health, the link between obesity and GERD underscores the importance of addressing weight management in the management of this chronic condition. GERD surgery, particularly laparoscopic procedures, offers a promising avenue for individuals struggling with both obesity and GERD to achieve significant improvements in their symptoms and overall quality of life.