Hemorrhoids occur when veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed. Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable, but are usually not dangerous or life threatening. Other conditions that can mimic hemorrhoid symptoms include anal fissure and anal fistula.
Home treatments can often treat hemorrhoids effectively. This includes adjusting your diet to avoid constipation, drinking more fluids, using a stool softener, and using ointments to relieve symptoms. Sitting in a warm bath several times daily (Sitz bath) can also soothe hemorrhoids.
If your hemorrhoids persist, your doctor may recommend one of several procedures that cut off the blood flow to the hemorrhoids using rubber bands, lasers, heat or electrical currents.
Rubber Band Ligation
The rectum is examined and a rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid, cutting off the blood supply. After about one week, the hemorrhoid shrinks and falls off. Your doctor may do a sigmoidoscopy at the time of treatment. This can be done in the office without sedation, or in a surgecenter.
Hemorrhoidectomy is the surgical removal hemorrhoids. The patient is put under general anesthesia or conscious sedation. The doctor makes incisions in the tissue around the hemorrhoid. The swollen vein inside the hemorrhoid is tied off to prevent bleeding, and the hemorrhoid is removed. This is performed by a general surgeon on hemorrhoids that are very large or not responsive to rubber band ligation.
Infrared photocoagulation (also called coagulation therapy) is used to treat small- and medium-sized hemorrhoids. The doctor uses a device that creates an intense beam of infrared light. Heat created by the infrared light causes scar tissue, which cuts off the hemorrhoid blood supply. This may be less effective than other treatments and is not used often.