Chelsie Begley

LINX® Surgery Gives 27-Year-Old Mom Her Life Back

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects more than 20% of Americans. GERD causes heartburn, chest pain, inability to eat certain foods and even food regurgitation – symptoms that were a big part of 27-year-old Chelsie Begley’s daily life.

As a mom of young kids balancing a 40-hour-a-week job and homeschooling, Chelsie had no energy for anything, thanks to her severe GERD symptoms.

“I’m a hands-on mom – we’re always doing crafts and activities,” says Chelsie. “I felt so terrible that we couldn’t do any of that. It made all of us sad.”

Chelsie would get through each day barely consuming 500-600 calories – and even that caused reflux misery. She could only drink water and eat bland foods, and her hair began to fall out because of the lack of nutrients in her diet.

Chelsie says she was hesitant to have surgery, but she knew something needed to change. She had lost 90 pounds and went to bed at 7 p.m. each night because she was so exhausted.

“I have two kids, so improving my quality of life is improving their quality of life,” says Chelsie. “I wanted my energy back – I wanted my life back.”

Chelsie Begley

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The path to LINX®

Chelsie spent almost two years battling acid reflux. Her symptoms began with chest pain, so her family doctor ensured she had no underlying cardiac issues and started her on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), a type of acid suppression medication.

In May 2020, Chelsie underwent an esophagus-stretching procedure because the reflux had damaged her esophagus and ability to swallow. Her gastroenterologist switched her medication to a different PPI and added an additional medication to control the esophageal nerves – but it only helped temporarily.

Finally, after switching to a daily combination of a PPI and yet another acid medication type (H2 blocker), Chelsie decided enough was enough.

“I don’t like taking medicine – I’m one of those people who won’t even take something to help a headache,” says Chelsie. “But it wasn’t helping enough, and I was miserable.”

Another family member had recently undergone magnetic sphincter augmentation or LINX® surgery at St. Elizabeth Healthcare and encouraged Chelsie to schedule a consultation with Dr. Valerie Williams, Thoracic Surgeon at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“I was really nervous, but Dr. Williams explained everything so well,” says Chelsie. “Because of my young age, she recommended LINX®as my best long-term option to controlling the reflux.”

What is LINX®?

GERD happens because of a defective valve or sphincter between the esophagus and stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LINX®is a bracelet-shaped FDA approved device that augments or supports the esophageal reflux barrier. It is laparoscopically placed and utilizes magnetic titanium beads to recreate the LES. When a patient swallows, the beads temporarily separate to allow food to pass but then they close to prevent food and acid in the stomach from coming back up into the esophagus. Unlike conventional surgery where the stomach is wrapped around the LES, the stomach is not altered with LINX®surgery and the ability to burp, belch and vomit is still possible. The LINX®allows for a two-way valve. Current data has revealed that 85 % of patients are off of their daily acid medication following LINX®surgery and 99% have resolution of regurgitation.

The surgery is an outpatient procedure – and the results are immediate.

“I had my surgery on September 22, 2021, and the very next day, I could eat and drink anything I wanted,” says Chelsie. “It was the best feeling ever – I could finally eat anything I craved!”

“LINX® gave me my life back.”

Chelsie’s only regret? Waiting to get LINX®.

Learn More About LINX®

Are you a candidate for LINX? Take our GERD quiz and call the St. Elizabeth Thoracic Surgery team to schedule an appointment.