Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or anus. By age 50, about half of the population will have experienced this sometimes painful condition, which results from an increase in pressure inside the veins of the rectum. Common causes include constipation, pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, heavy lifting, sitting for long periods and diarrhea.
There are two types of hemorrhoids based on location. Internal hemorrhoids occur inside the lower rectum and often can’t be seen or felt. As this form is typically painless, the only symptoms you may notice are small amounts of bright red blood (on your toilet paper or inside the toilet bowl) or a feeling of fullness following a bowel movement.
Occasionally, internal hemorrhoids can push through the anal opening. This is known as a prolapsed, or protruding, hemorrhoid. Sometimes these swollen veins remain prolapsed temporarily; in other cases, they become permanent. If the hemorrhoid remains outside the anus, it can cause pain, itching, bleeding and the formation of excess skin (skin tags).
External hemorrhoids occur as bulges or lumps around the anus. Because of the sensitive nerve fibers in this area, these enlarged veins are often painful, especially when sitting. They also may bleed and itch. Should blood pool in an external hemorrhoid, a blood clot referred to as a thrombosed hemorrhoid may develop and cause severe pain.
The less common of the two forms, external hemorrhoids are often incorrectly self-diagnosed because many people mistake internal hemorrhoids – or the skin tags they can produce – for external hemorrhoids. Always consult a physician to determine whether you have the internal or external type.
Home remedies such as creams, suppositories and warm baths may offer temporary relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids. But for many people, hemorrhoids don’t go away. Instead, they can get progressively worse over time, growing in both size and number. Some chronic sufferers develop hemorrhoids in as many as three locations.
We use the patented, CRH O’Regan System™, considered the “gold standard” treatment. This highly effective (99.1%), minimally invasive procedure is performed in minutes. If there are multiple hemorrhoids, we treat them one at a time in separate visits.
During the brief and painless procedure, our physician specialist places a small rubber band around the tissue just above the hemorrhoid where there are few pain-sensitive nerve endings. Unlike traditional banding techniques that use a metal-toothed clamp to grasp the tissue, we use a gentle suction device, reducing the risk of pain and bleeding.
Our banding procedure works by cutting off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid. This causes the hemorrhoid to shrink and fall off, typically within a day or so. You probably won’t even notice when this happens or be able to spot the rubber band in the toilet. Once the hemorrhoid is gone, the wound usually heals in a week or two.
During the first 24 hours, some patients may experience a feeling of fullness or a dull ache in the rectum. This can typically be relieved with an over-the-counter pain medication. A remarkable 99.8% of patients treated with our method have no post-procedure pain, however.
In fact, thanks to design improvements, our procedure has a ten-fold reduction in complications compared to traditional banding.
For one, our instruments are smaller, affording greater comfort for patients and better visibility for physicians. Unlike other devices, they are also single use and 100% disposable.
Following hemorrhoid banding, we recommend that you rest at home for the remainder of the day and resume full activity the next day. You can have normal bowel movements during this time, but you may want to soak in a sitz bath (a warm tub with a tablespoon of table salt added) or use to a bidet for a gentler cleansing of the anal opening.
Soon you’ll be feeling much better, but you’ll need to make some changes to prevent future problems. Straining due to constipation should be diligently avoided, so be sure to drink seven or eight glasses of water (around 50 ounces) a day and add two tablespoons of natural oat or wheat bran to your diet. (Metamucil, Benefibre, flax or other soluble fiber may be helpful as well.)
We also recommend that you not sit longer than two minutes on the toilet. If you can’t have a bowel movement in that time, come back later. This two-minute rule can help keep you from straining during bowel movements without realizing it. Finally, when traveling by air, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, eat fiber and walk around when you can.