April 02, 2024

Can I Have Bariatric Surgery With A Hiatal Hernia?

Man talking to a doctor about Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery helps patients lose weight if other efforts, like changes to diet and exercise habits, haven’t been successful. Another issue commonly faced by people who are obese is a hiatal hernia, which can cause heartburn, vomiting, and chest pain.

People considering weight loss surgery often ask, “Can I have bariatric surgery with a hiatal hernia?” The short answer is yes. Your surgeon can perform the bariatric procedure and correct the hernia in one surgery.

This article explains what a hiatal hernia is and why it’s often corrected during bariatric surgery.

What Is a Hiatal Hernia?

A hernia occurs when part of an organ protrudes through a muscle wall. A sliding hiatal hernia is when the upper part of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm into the chest cavity, creating a small pocket above the diaphragm.

The condition is more likely in people who are obese because they typically have higher abdominal pressures. It can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which has symptoms like heartburn and acid indigestion. Over time, GERD can also cause erosive esophagitis, where stomach acid damages the esophagus. A sliding hiatal hernia can worsen if the pressure continues.

A second type of hiatal hernia, called a paraesophageal type hiatal hernia, may be related to obesity or other factors. It also can be addressed during bariatric surgery.

Hiatal Hernia Repair During Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery can reduce or eliminate a hiatal hernia even when the surgeon doesn’t actively address it. However, hernias can return later.

Consequently, your doctor may recommend that you have a hiatal hernia repair (HHR) at the same time as your bariatric surgery. Having the procedures simultaneously can reduce the risk of a hernia returning or worsening later.

Identifying a Hiatal Hernia Before Bariatric Surgery

If you’re considering bariatric surgery and also experiencing heartburn and pain in your chest or upper abdomen, your doctor may want to determine whether you have a hiatal hernia. Testing can include:

  • X-ray of your upper digestive system. You drink a chalky substance that lines your digestive tract, making it possible for an X-ray to show the outline of your esophagus and stomach.
  • Endoscopy. A thin tube with a camera is passed down your throat, allowing your doctor to see the inside of your esophagus and stomach.
  • Esophageal manometry. This test assesses the function of muscles in your esophagus to determine if they’re working correctly.

If testing shows that you have a hiatal hernia, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct it at the same time as your gastric sleeve or gastric bypass procedure.

Get Help with Hiatal Hernias and Weight Loss From Baptist Health

Bariatric surgery and hiatal hernia repair can help you lose weight and eliminate GERD symptoms. The procedures can also reduce your risk of related health problems (diabetes, esophagus damage, etc.).

If you need assistance in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and correcting a hiatal hernia, Baptist Health can help. Learn more about our bariatric care and weight loss services today.

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