About Us

Virginia Heartburn and Hernia Institute is a private General Surgery practice started by Dr. Kevin Gillian. He moved to this area after completing one of the first fellowships for laparoscopic surgery in the nation. His practice has been providing “state of the art”, minimally invasive surgery to his patients in the Northern Virginia/DC Metro area since 1998. After several years of searching for surgical talent Dr. Gillian invited Dr. Sophia Lee to join the practice in late 2019. Like Dr. Gillian, she pursued a fellowship in minimally invasive/laparoscopic surgery after her General Surgery training. Our advanced training and experience with complex laparoscopic surgery sets us apart from other General Surgeons in the region but we are delighted to evaluate and resolve the more routine surgical issues as well.

Many of the innovative techniques and equipment used now trace their roots to the time when Dr. Gillian was doing his fellowship and starting his practice. Consequently, Dr. Gillian had the rare opportunity to participate in the development of many procedures, equipment and surgical materials that are in use today. Many of the “cutting edge” procedures that are often touted by surgeons and hospitals were a routine part of Dr. Gillian’s practice more than a decade ago. For example, Dr. Gillian has been performing selected surgeries with the DaVinci Robotic platform since 2009 and in 2013 was the first surgeon in Virginia or Washington D.C. allowed to implant the LINX device for reflux control. Dr. Gillian has become a common fixture on the national lecture circuit for surgeon training and at times a featured speaker on the international stage.

Dr. Lee completed her fellowship in minimally invasive surgery in 2006 and had been practicing in Richmond, VA prior to joining us. Her unique fellowship has given her the ability to safely offer her patients the benefits minimally invasive surgery with the confidence that only years of experience and training can provide. Hernia repair, anti-reflux surgery, bariatric surgery, disorders of the gallbladder, LINX surgery, solid organ and colon surgery are areas where her specialty training brings all of the benefits of a faster recovery with smaller incisions and less pain to her patients.

Dr. Gillian’s techniques and experience in laparoscopic abdominal surgery and inguinal hernia repair are well known in the surgical community and it is not unusual to have visiting surgeons in his operating room to learn his techniques many times a year. In fact he often gets referrals from regional surgeons to evaluate patients due to his expertise in this complex and evolving field. He has been asked to lecture and train other surgeons on a wide variety of laparoscopic surgical subjects including: inguinal hernias, incisional hernias, sports hernias, chronic groin pain, cholecystectomy (gallbladder), solid organ surgery, adrenalectomy, splenectomy, explorations for chronic abdominal pain, hiatal hernia repair, and Nissen fundoplication for reflux. Dr. Gillian’s practice continues publish research articles and to participate in a number of research projects with other medical centers and surgical companies around the country.

Dr. Gillian is experienced and proficient in many areas of laparoscopic surgery, but he maintains a particularly strong focus on the evaluation and management of patients with hernia issues and gastroesophageal reflux disease. He has established and directed several Heartburn Centers in the region including the Heartburn Center at INOVA Alexandria Hospital Center where we still provide limited services. In the Summer of 2023 Dr. Gillian returned to rebuild the Heartburn Center at VHC Health System with full time staff and the latest equipment. This is the primary location where he facilitates the evaluation of patients with heartburn, swallowing disorders and unexplained chest pain of both his patients and those referred from other physicians. If needed, Dr. Gillian will correct the defects with either Laparoscopic or Robotic surgery. He has done nearly 5000 anti-reflux surgeries to date. His practice was named one of the few epicenters for LINX surgery in the country and due to his experience and results he was also selected to train other surgeons in this procedure.

Dr. Lee was designated as a Surgeon of Excellence in Hernia Surgery by Surgical Review Corporation and a Surgeon of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Clinical Robotic Surgery Association. She enjoys the full breadth of general surgery and strives to be approachable and compassionate to make the surgical experience as easy and positive as possible

The benefit of seeing a private practice surgeon is that our first obligation is to you our patient and not some impersonal “healthcare system”. We recognize that surgery creates a mix of fear and anxiety. Although our surgical procedures are state of the art our office is very much old school and relaxed. Remember, we work for you and no one else. This is why we have always been able to bring the best procedures to you before anyone else in the region.

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