Fixing Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Medically Reviewed by Katelyn J. Mock, US-Registered Dietician (R.D.)

Quite a few of you may be dealing with acid reflux after gastric sleeve surgery. This is not uncommon after the sleeve and has to do with the pressure changes in the stomach.

What is Acid Reflux?

If you already have reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), the sleeve can sometimes make it worse.

What is Post Bariatric Surgery for Acid Reflux?

  • It is also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • With reflux, stomach acid and sometimes food contents come back up into the esophagus, irritating that protective lining. [1]Diseases and Conditions, Mayo Clinic. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)“
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Treatment of Severe Reflux After Sleeve Gastrectomy

  • It is important to note that GERD can progress to more serious medical diseases, including Barrett’s Esophagus and even Esophageal Cancer.
  • Be careful that you and your primary physician do not write off reflux simply because it is a common ailment in our day and age.
  • If over-the-counter medications don’t work, talk to your physician about a prescription, such as a PPI (proton pump inhibitor).
  • A referral to a physician who specializes in acid reflux or a heartburn center may be beneficial to you.

Over-the-Counter Medications for Acid Reflux After Bariatric Surgery

Some over-the-counter medications for GERD (acid reflux) or heartburn after bariatric surgery are:

  • Maalox
  • Mylanta
  • Rolaids
  • Tums

Before taking any medication for heartburn, make sure to check with your physician to be on the safe side. Additionally, make sure to eat and drink slowly and to avoid lying down 2 hours after eating.

Acid reflux is a common concern for a lot of people but can lead to serious health issues. Hence, it is really important to talk to your doctor about long-term strategies if it remains an issue.

Medical procedures such as LINX and even a possible conversion of gastric sleeve to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass may be appropriate in certain cases.

The shape and size of the gastric sleeve can be one of the major ways to predict the possibility of postoperative GERD complication. The use of a larger bougie has been associated with the occurrence of GERD as a larger sleeve means lesser weight loss and an increased number of residual parietal cells.[2]Fabrizio Rebecchi, Marco E Allaix et al. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Morbid Obesity: To Sleeve or Not to Sleeve?” 2017; 23(13): 2269-2275
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Lifestyle Changes to Get Rid of Acid Reflux After Weight Loss Surgery

Food to Avoid Acid Reflux Post WLS
Foods To Avoid Acid Reflux Post-WLS
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is important. This is obviously where surgery and the changes you make in your eating habits can play a big role.

Evaluate if certain foods or drinks trigger reflux for yourself. Common food triggers[3]Abraham Khan, Aram Kim et al. “Impact of Obesity Treatment on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease” World Journal of Gastroenterology 2016; 22(40: 1627-1638
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  • Alcohol
  • Fried foods
  • Tomato or marinara sauce
  • Caffeine
  • Garlic/onions
  • Orange juice and other acidic beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Mint/peppermint
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Again, most of you will already be following the diet guidelines after gastric sleeve surgery.
  • Pay attention to fullness cues and stop eating at the first sign of fullness or satiety.
  • Elevate your head in the evenings with multiple pillows or a special mattress/wedge pillow.
  • Avoid lying down after a meal. Ideally, wait 3 hours.

Do you have any questions about acid reflux after gastric sleeve surgery? Tell us in the comments!


  1. Diseases and Conditions, Mayo Clinic. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  2. Fabrizio Rebecchi, Marco E Allaix et al. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Morbid Obesity: To Sleeve or Not to Sleeve?” 2017; 23(13): 2269-2275
  3. Abraham Khan, Aram Kim et al “Impact of Obesity Treatment on Gastroesophageal Reflux DiseaseWorld Journal of Gastroenterology 2016; 22(40: 1627-1638

This Post Addresses

  • Can gastric bypass help with GERD?
  • What is bariatric esophagus?
  • Bile reflux after gastric bypass
  • Severe heartburn after gastric sleeve

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