You had surgery to treat your gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition that causes food or liquid to come up from your stomach into your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach).
Your surgeon probably repaired a hiatal hernia with stitches. A hiatal hernia develops when the natural opening in your diaphragm is too large. Your diaphragm is the muscle layer between your chest and belly. Your stomach may bulge through this large hole into your chest. This bulging is called a hiatal hernia. It may make GERD symptoms worse.
Your surgeon also wrapped the upper part of your stomach around the end of your esophagus to create pressure at the end of your esophagus. This pressure helps prevent stomach acid and food from flowing back up.
Your surgery was done by making a large incision in your upper belly (open surgery) or with a laparoscope (a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end).
Most patients go back to work 2 - 3 weeks after laparoscopic surgery and 4 - 6 weeks after open surgery.
You may have a feeling of tightness when you swallow for 6 - 8 weeks. This is from the swelling inside your esophagus. You may also have some bloating.
When you get back home, you will be drinking a clear liquid diet for 2 weeks. You will be on a full liquid diet for about 2 weeks after that, and then a soft-food diet after that.
On the liquid diet:
When you are eating solid foods again, chew well. Do not eat cold foods. Do not eat foods that clump together, such as rice or bread. Eat small amounts of food several times a day instead of 3 big meals.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filled when you go home so you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine before your pain becomes too severe.
Walk several times a day. Do NOT lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (about the same as a gallon of milk). Do NOT do any pushing or pulling. Slowly increase how much you do around the house. Your doctor will tell you when you can increase your activity and return to work.
Take care of your wound (incision):
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Fundoplication - discharge; Nissen fundoplication - discharge; Belsey (Mark IV) fundoplication - discharge; Toupet fundoplication - discharge; Thal fundoplication - discharge; Hiatal hernia repair - discharge; Endoluminal fundoplication - discharge
Peterson RP, Pelligrini CA, Oelschlager BK. Hiatal Hernia and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. In: Townsend: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA:WB Saunders; 2011:chap 44.
Kahrilas PJ, Shaheen NJ, Vaezi MF, Hiltz SW, Black E, Modlin IM. American Gastroenterological Association Medical Position Statement on the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology. 2008;135:1383-1391.
Wilson JF. In The Clinic: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(3):ITC2-1-15.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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