Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a more severe form of acid reflux, heartburn or acid indigestion. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle at the bottom of the throat) opens spontaneously or does not close properly and stomach contents rise into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.

Occasional acid reflux is common and does not necessarily mean one has GERD. More persistent reflux (occurring more than twice a week) is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

GERD is on the rise in our country, as obesity is on the rise.


What are the Symptoms and Risk Factors for GERD?



Burning in Chest

Throat Irritation



GERD can affect anyone of any age and weight. But certain factors put you at a greater risk of developing the condition, including:


Lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol consumption

Certain conditions such as pregnancy and hiatal hernia

Overconsumption of fatty, fried, sugary foods

Watch the Video Below to Learn More

How is GERD Diagnosed and Treated?

Occasional heartburn or acid reflux is common and usually resolves with over-the-counter medications. When symptoms occur more frequently (two or more times per week), seem severe or do not respond to medication, it’s time to see a doctor.If left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious complications.

At Weight Loss Specialists, a GERD diagnosis begins with a thorough exam with one of our board-certified doctors, including a review of your personal and family history. If indicated, we may recommend the following:

01 Esophageal Motility Study

02 PH Monitoring

Treatment for GERD varies depending on each patient’s unique situation and degree of the condition, but may include:

Lifestyle changes


Weight loss


You may not be able to prevent GERD, but you can make lifestyle changes, which may decrease the symptoms associated with GERD and your risk of developing other, more serious, health problems.

Long-term use of medications to treat GERD may cause side effects. As such, surgery may be the optimal treatment for patients that are young and would need long term use of medications – even if the medications successfully treat GERD.


LINX is a recent development in the treatment and management of GERD. The device looks like a small “bracelet” made of titanium beads that is surgically implanted and wrapped around the lower portion of the esophagus at the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The ends of the bracelet are secured to each other with a magnetic clasp.

When food passes through the esophagus, the LINX expands to allow solid and liquid through the opening and into the stomach, and then reclosing. Gastric juices being pushed from the stomach back toward the esophagus remain blocked. In most cases, patients report tremendous relief in symptoms of reflux and GERD.

Results of a clinical trial of LINX™ in patients with persistent GERD following sleeve gastrectomy (n=30):5


no longer needed daily PPIs one year after LINX treatment*


were free from moderate-to-severe heartburn at one year6†


were free from moderate-to-severe regurgitation at one year‡

Post-Sleeve Study Published

A study (Khaitan et al.) assessing the safety and efficacy outcomes of LINX after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) has been published in Obesity Surgery. This study followed 30 patients for 12 months post-LINX implantation and measured distal acid exposure, GERD-HRQL, and average daily PPI use compared to baseline.

Read Full Text Article

One year safety results

No migrations. No erosions.

No device migrations or erosions were observed within 12 months post-implant.5†

Low removal rate.

6.7% device explant rate one year after LINX™ treatment.5**

Dysphagia resolved within 12 months post-op.
All patients completing the study were free from dysphagia at 12 months post-LINX™ implantation.7††

Tarik Al-Kalla, M.D.

As a fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon, Dr. Al-Kalla sees many patients seeking help with weight loss, but many of them are also suffering from related conditions, including severe heartburn and reflux. This is where his interest in modern treatments for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) began.

Dr. Al-Kalla has extensive experience in open, laparoscopic and robotic surgery in both general and bariatric surgery and uses minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. His skillset extends to hiatal hernia and reflux surgery, abdominal hernia surgery and the latest advancements in the treatment of GERD. Dr. Al-Kalla was recognized as a 2020 Top Surgeon by Texas Magazine’s Top Doctors.

“The goal of treating GERD at Weight Loss Specialists is not only to decrease bothersome GERD symptoms, but also to decrease your risks of developing other, more serious esophageal conditions.”

Dr. Tarik Al-Kalla

Untreated GERD Can Lead to More Serious Health Conditions

Why is it so important to seek help if you’re suffering with GERD?

As stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, it can cause irritation and inflammation. Over time, complications can develop. The esophagus can narrow, leading to a stricture and swallowing problems. Sores or ulcers can develop which can bleed, be painful and make swallowing difficult. Additionally, precancerous changes can occur to the esophagus, called Barrett’s Esophagus, which is the main risk factor for developing esophageal cancer.

The goal of treating GERD at Weight Loss Specialists is not only to decrease bothersome GERD symptoms, but also to decrease your risks of developing other, more serious esophageal conditions.


More Procedures

Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

Significant weight loss often results in stretched abdominal muscles and loose, hanging skin around your midsection. As a result, you may be unable to achieve a fit stomach in spite of all the hard work you put in to lose the excess weight. A tummy tuck is a popular body contouring cosmetic surgery procedure that addresses this situation.

Dr. A can remove excess fat and skin while tightening loose abdominal muscles in order to help you achieve a more fit appearance in your stomach region. Many of our patients tell us that their tummy tuck provides increased self-confidence that translates into every aspect of their life.

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Hernia Surgery

The abdominal wall is made up of layers of different muscles and tissues. Weak spots can develop in these layers to allow contents of the abdominal cavity to protrude or herniate. The most common abdominal hernias are in the groin (inguinal hernia), in the diaphragm (hiatal hernia) and the belly button (umbilical hernia).

A hiatal hernia is when part of the stomach extends up through the diaphragm and into the chest. It can cause severe acid reflux or GERD symptoms. Sometimes, we can treat your hiatal hernia with medications, but if it fails to bring adequate relief, we may recommend surgery.

Surgery can repair a hiatal hernia by pulling the protruding tissue or organ back into the abdomen and making the opening in the diaphragm smaller. In more serious cases, surgery can also involve surgically reconstructing the esophageal sphincter or removing hernial sacs.

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Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder, the pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder stores bile, a digestive fluid produced in the liver.

Gallbladder removal surgery is a common procedure. Our surgeons use a minimally invasive approach to gallbladder removal. This works by inserting a tiny video camera and special surgical tools through small incisions to see inside your abdomen and remove the gallbladder. In most cases, you can go home the same day of your procedure.

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An appendectomy is a surgical procedure to remove an inflamed or infected appendix, a condition called appendicitis. Without surgery, an infected appendix could rupture, spilling infectious material into the bloodstream and abdomen, which can become life-threatening.

One way to remove the appendix is by making one larger incision below and to the right of your belly button. This is referred to as an open appendectomy. At Weight Loss Specialists, our surgeons perform a laparoscopic appendectomy whenever possible. Laparoscopic appendectomy removes the appendix using small incisions, allowing for a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay in most cases.

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Lipoma Removal

A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump that’s most often situated between your skin and the underlying muscle layer. A lipoma, which feels doughy and usually isn’t tender, moves readily with slight finger pressure. Lipomas are most common in people over 40, but can occur at any age.

A lipoma isn’t cancer and is usually harmless, but if the lipoma bothers you, is painful or is growing, you may want to have it removed. At Weight Loss Specialists, our surgeons can perform the procedure in our Denton clinic (in most cases), saving you time and money.

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ATTENTION patients of Dr. Al-Kalla

Dr. Al-Kalla will be leaving Weight Loss Specialists of North Texas at the end of July. If you would like continue as his patient, please let us know and we can assist in getting your medical records transferred.

You may also choose to stay with Weight Loss Specialists of North Texas and we’ll gladly transfer your care to another provider on staff.

Thank you.