Acid-reflux surgery ends a lifelong fight with GERD

[Allina Health Newsroom, November 19, 2023] Kelly’s story: Kelly Aanestad enjoys growing delicious vegetables in her garden. But for many years, she couldn’t eat them without the fear of pain.  

“I’ve struggled with acid reflux for most of my life,” said Kelly, now 38 years old.  

Kelly had a common condition called GERD, short for gastroesophageal reflux disease, that occurs when stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the esophagus. 

“It was to the point that I would wake up in the middle of the night, choking from the acid and feeling a burning sensation.”

That changed in mid 2022 when Kelly had GERD surgery. 

“We strengthened the connection between Kelly's esophagus and stomach to address her reflux,” said Christopher Macomber, MD.  “This surgery often results in a significant decrease in reflux symptoms, as it did for Kelly.” 

“GERD has increased in prevalence, and we understand how debilitating it can be. Our team of specialized experts can help a patient as they determine the best medical decisions for their lifestyle and health goals,” said Hui Sen Chong, MD

Local care: Dr. Chong is the medical director for the Allina Health GERD Program. Dr. Macomber was Kelly’s surgeon and is the medical director for the Allina Health Center for Complex Hernia and Abdominal Surgery. He also leads a robotic surgery program that helps make GERD surgeries less invasive and more effective. 

Dr. Macomber says GERD surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, but there are diet requirements for about a month post-surgery. In Kelly’s case, it took about two months to return to normal meals and snacks. Still, she says the process was worth it. 

“I feel like a completely different person,” she said. “The Allina Health team has helped me fix the broken part of me, and I am extremely grateful for that.” 

Kelly says she has more energy to experience life now and is finally enjoying the taste of her homegrown tomatoes. 

About 1 in 5 people experience GERD. You may be a candidate for GERD surgery if:   

Lifestyle changes and medication don’t improve your symptoms.
• You don’t want to take daily medication for the rest of your life.
• You have had aspiration pneumonia from the reflux. 
• Your adult-onset asthma gets worse.
• You have a family history of esophageal cancer. 

Learn more about GERD symptoms and treatment options:

Schedule a consultation with an expert surgeon: 763-277-8472.

Posted on November 20, 2023 in Abbott Northwestern Hospital

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