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Treatment for Heartburn and GERD

Many people suffer from heartburn or GERD, despite taking medication for the issue. At Florida Coast Weight Loss Center, we provide our patients from Orlando, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach with unique and effective treatment for heartburn and GERD.

What is GERD?

GERD, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a chronic digestive disease in which acid and bile flow back (or reflux) from the stomach into the esophagus, creating pain and often causing damage to the lining of the esophagus. Reflux disease is caused by weakness or inappropriate relaxation in a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally the LES acts like a valve allowing food and liquid to pass into the stomach but preventing stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus.

In some cases, GERD can lead to far more serious or even life-threatening conditions, so it is important to seek medical attention if you suffer from GERD.

What are the Symptoms of GERD?

Heartburn, or acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid or food comes up out of the stomach into the esophagus during the process of digestion. These terms are often used interchangeably, however reflux disease can produce a wide variety of symptoms including:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Pain in the chest
  • Difficulty swallowing or choking on foods
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Laryngitis
  • Asthma
  • Sleep disruption1,2
  • Pain that increases when bending over or lying down3

What are the Complications of Reflux?

In addition to producing a wide range of symptoms, reflux disease can lead to potentially serious complications including:

  • Esophagitis (inflammation that can damage the tissue of the esophagus)
  • Stricture (narrowing of the esophagus)
  • Barrett’s esophagus (pre-cancerous changes to the tissue lining of the esophagus)
  • Esophageal cancer (in rare cases)

Treat Heartburn and GERD with Lifestyle Changes and Finish Strong

Some patients are able to find relief from heartburn and GERD by taking medications such as over-the-counter antacids or proton pump inhibitors. Reflux medications are designed to reduce acid production in the stomach and may provide relief from heartburn symptoms and may reduce inflammation of the esophageal lining. Medications, however, are simply a band-aid for the underlying problem and do not address the root cause of reflux (the weak LES) or even prevent reflux. Side effects of medication use may include headache, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Long-term use of PPIs have also been associated with increased osteoporosis and bone fracture rates. Studies have shown that up to 40% of patients continue to have symptoms while on medication.4

healthy couple running on a bridge

At Florida Coast Weight Loss Center, Dr. Darren Peterson and our team take a unique approach to heartburn and GERD. We have found that excess weight and the presence of a hiatal hernia are the 2 most common causes of chronic GERD.  Successful weight loss is often a necessary component.  Our commitment to your successful weight loss journey is reflected in the lifestyle changes learned through the 12-month Finish Strong Program we created.  

The Finish Strong Program is based on the concept that bariatric surgery is only one tool patients need to achieve a healthier and happier life. It is designed to guide our patients as they navigate all aspects of post-bariatric surgery life. Through this program, we provide support and accountability for the 3 Pillars of Health & Wellness: nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle. The Finish Strong Program is unique in that it provides our patients with education and long-term guidance as compared to many bariatric programs that only offer limited support in these aspects of overall wellness.  This approach has been found to be highly effective in reducing incidences of heartburn and GERD in our post-surgical patients.

LINX® Treatment for GERD and Heartburn

In addition to the lifestyle changes our Finish Strong Program patients embrace to reduce heartburn, we also offer minimally invasive treatment with the LINX system. Dr. Peterson is one of only a few surgeons in the United States who specializes in LINX treatment after a patient has undergone a sleeve gastrectomy.

With LINX, Dr. Peterson is able to stop acid reflux at its source using a laparoscopic surgical technique and a device approved by the FDA. LINX is a small flexible band (the size of a quarter) made from magnetized titanium beads. Once in place around the esophagus just above the stomach, LINX allows food and liquids to pass into the stomach but helps prevent stomach acids from moving into the esophagus.

linx device

The LINX procedure is minimally invasive and performed under general anesthesia in less than an hour. Patients are able to return home the same day, and LINX results are immediate. After treatment with LINX, 99% of patients no longer experienced regurgitation.  Over 85% were free of heartburn – and no longer needed daily reflux medication.5 They also experienced reduced bloating and an improved ability to belch and vomit.

Contact Florida Coast Weight Loss Center

Whether or not you have undergone bariatric surgery, if you struggle with heartburn or GERD, the experts at Florida Coast Weight Loss Center can help. Contact us today to learn more about our heartburn treatment options and schedule a consultation. We proudly serve patients from Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and surrounding communities.

1 Mayo Clinic. GERD. Available: Accessed July 1, 2022.
2 American Gastroenterological Association. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Available: Accessed July 1, 2022.
3 Mayo Clinic. Heartburn. Available: Accessed July 1, 2022.
4 Rona KA, Reynolds J, Schwameis K, Zehetner J, Samakar K, Oh P, Vong D, Sandhu K, Katkhouda N, Bildzukewicz N, Lipham JC. Efficacy of magnetic sphincter augmentation in patients with large hiatal hernias. Surg Endosc. 2017 May;31(5):2096-2102. doi: 10.1007/s00464-016-5204-3. Epub 2016 Aug 23. PMID: 27553803. Available: Accessed July 6, 2022.
5 Ganz RA, Edmundowicz SA, Taiganides PA, Lipham JC, Smith CD, DeVault KR, Horgan S, Jacobsen G, Luketich JD, Smith CC, Schlack-Haerer SC, Kothari SN, Dunst CM, Watson TJ, Peters J, Oelschlager BK, Perry KA, Melvin S, Bemelman WA, Smout AJ, Dunn D. Long-term Outcomes of Patients Receiving a Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation Device for Gastroesophageal Reflux. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 May;14(5):671-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.05.028. Epub 2015 Jun 2. PMID: 26044316. Available: Accessed July 6, 2022.

The surgeons at Florida Coast Weight Loss Center have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.