There are a few things that you should know long term after your fundoplication surgery.
You will probably not be able to vomit after fundoplication surgery. When you were discharged from the hospital, you were given a prescription for Compazine (Prochlorperazine). This is for nausea and vomiting. Keep it with you just in case. If you are traveling and get sick, please call the office and we will call in mediation to a pharmacy near you. If you do end up with the dry heaves, you may have some swelling at the surgery site and find it difficult to swallow for a few days. You may need to go to a more liquid consistency until the swallowing improves. If this lasts more than a few days, or you are not able to keep yourself hydrated, call the office.
In the first few weeks after fundoplication surgery, it takes longer for food and liquids to go down your esophagus and reach your stomach. This is because the esophagus is a little stunned from surgery, so it is not pushing as well and because there will be swelling where the esophagus meets the stomach- where the surgery took place. This is why you were on liquids for a while after surgery. If you eat too big of a bite, too fast, or do not chew well, most likely food will sit in your esophagus and cause pain until it passes or you regurgitate it back up.
After you have healed from surgery and on a regular diet, you should not have much problem swallowing. If you take a big bite, do not chew very well, eat too fast then you may have the sensation of food sticking (painful). If this happens, sip on some warm tap water and the food will either pass or come back up.
If you start to have food stick all of a sudden without any obvious reason, or if food sticking becomes a problem, please email or call the office.
About 1 in 10 patients will experience some return of symptoms in the first 10 years after fundoplication surgery. If symptoms return, we would really like to be involved and try to sort out what the best treatment is (often the symptoms are not due to GERD!)
If you are prescribed PPIs, or if symptoms recur, please email or call the office.
Problems with intestinal gas often go hand in hand with reflux. The reason for this is quite simple. Over 99% of intestinal gas comes from swallowed air. For people with reflux, the only remaining defense for their esophagus is to swallow more often to try to clear the stomach juices from the esophagus. Over time, a person develops an unconscious habit of swallowing more often, therefore swallowing large amounts of air. If their lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is defective, this gas is easily belched back up without even being noticed. Once you have surgery to correct this valve, the frequency and amount of air you can belch decreases. This will continue until your body learns that you do not need to swallow as much, because you do not have reflux anymore. This relearning can take 2-8 months after surgery. Around 6 months out from surgery, the LES will start to have some relaxations; you may even be able to belch. This will help with some of the excess air.
Some eating habits can contribute to excess gas production as well: eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, chewing gum or sucking on candy, overeating, consumption of high fat and sugar containing foods, tobacco, and anxiety.