Do you need a hemorrhoidectomy surgical procedure? If you're not sure whether this surgical option is the right choice, take a look at the questions to ask first.
Do You Have Hemorrhoids?
Before you make any decisions about treatment, you need a doctor's diagnosis. Nearly one in 20 Americans has (or has had) hemorrhoids, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectal area. You may develop internal (inside your body) or external (outside of the anus) hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoid symptoms include itching, irritation, pain, swelling, or bleeding. Even though these symptoms are common, they may also indicate another anal, rectal, or gastrointestinal issues. This makes a doctor's diagnosis an important first step. If the medical provider diagnoses hemorrhoids, you can move on to a treatment discussion.
Is Surgery the First-Choice Option?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the location (internal versus external), the size of the hemorrhoids, bleeding, and whether the hemorrhoids are thrombosed. Small hemorrhoids that only cause minor discomfort may respond well to conservative treatment. These may include warm water sitz baths, analgesic creams, or suppositories (for internal hemorrhoids).
If your body doesn't respond to these types of treatments, you are in pain, or you have a thrombosed hemorrhoid, the doctor may recommend a surgical option. Some patients may only need a minimally invasive procedure. These out-patient procedures include rubber band ligation, infrared or laser coagulation, and sclerotherapy injection.
When Is Surgery Necessary?
You've tried over the counter treatments and minimally invasive techniques. But you still have hemorrhoids. If this problem persists, worsens, or is thrombosed (a clot forms), you may need a hemorrhoidectomy procedure. The doctor will examine the area, evaluate your individual healthcare needs, and make a recommendation.
What Is Hemorrhoid Removal Surgery?
Like the minimally invasive procedures, hemorrhoidectomy is typically an out-patient surgery. The surgeon will use a scalpel (surgical knife), electric cautery tool, or laser to remove the hemorrhoids. If the surgeon doesn't feel removal is the right choice for your individual needs, they may elect a staple surgery—also known as hemorrhoidopexy. This procedure is used for internal hemorrhoids.
Instead of removing the affected area, the surgeon lifts and staples the hemorrhoids. This blocks the blood supply to the hemorrhoids. While this option doesn't involve a surgical incision, it is possible your hemorrhoid may return.
After a diagnosis, discuss all the options with your doctor. The medical provider can review the risks, benefits, after-care, and ways to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence.