Dr. Neil Floch, M.D.

For many, surgery sounds like a last resort, to be avoided at all costs.
But for some of the many who suffer from acid reflux, when preventative measures and medications don’t work, surgery is a long-term, effective solution, according to Dr. Neil Floch, M.D.
Floch a surgeon with Fairfield County Bariatrics and Surgical Specialists, P.C. has performed acid reflux surgeries for about 14 years and is one of the pioneers in the field.
“As a surgeon, you don’t like to do surgery if you don’t have too,” Floch said. “But the long-terms effects of medications can be problematic.
“Surgery becomes more of viable and desirable option to permanently get rid of the problem.”
The option is growing in popularity with many patients.
“The amount of surgery I’ve done in past year or two has at least doubled,” Dr. Floch said.
Floch says acid reflux an overwhelming problem that affects many Americans. A Gallup poll shows that more than 44 percent of adults suffer from severe acid reflux at least once a month.
The stomach produces acid for the digestion of food and, when working properly, a muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, opens to allow food to pass after swallowing. When not working properly, the valve allows acid and bile to escape the stomach and leak back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by stomach acid and often leads to heartburn and regurgitation. Other problems can contribute to reflux, like the presence of a hiatus hernia, which is a sliding of the upper stomach into the chest, or overproduction of stomach acid.
Surgery?
A number of medications on the market treat GERD symptoms but research is finding that patients who take it for take long periods of time — 10 to 15 years — can experience side-effects, like nutrient deficiencies or polyps or growths in the stomach.
“If medication controls the symptoms and patients don’t have any other problems they can remain on it,” Floch said. “Then there are those people who are on medication but get still get symptoms or other patients who take medication but have a bad response it.”
Some people may have other issues that would make surgery a better fit. For example, If someone suffers a hiatal hernia, surgery is the only way to get rid of it and medication will only cover up the problem.
Options
“Several surgeries are available,” Floch said. “Think of them as less invasive and more invasive.”
The more invasive and specialized surgery is called Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication. Dr. Floch is one of the most prominent surgeons in the country who performs the surgery.
The purpose of the surgery is to strengthen the valve between the stomach and esophagus. It is also used for patients who need hiatal hernia repair.
“Studies show it cures the reflux in 90 to 95 percent of patients,” Floch said. “It’s the most invasive but also the most successful.”
Recently, because many patients want to avoid surgery, there is an incision-less procedure called, Esophyx.
“It’s done with a scope in the mouth,” Floch said.
The procedure reconstructs a durable “anti-reflux” valve and tightens the lower esophageal sphincter.
Learning more
Dr. Floch is giving a free seminar on surgical options for patients who suffer from GERD on Oct. 10 at Norwalk Hospital. He is also holding free seminars monthly at Fairfield County Bariatrics, to learn more call the office at 203-899-0744 or visit antireflux.com. Fairfield County Bariatrics has offices throughout the area, including Fairfield, Norwalk and Stamford.
“We want to educate patients on their options,” Floch said. “Many people think they need to take medication for the rest of their lives, which can be costly and have side-effects.”