Do I Need Surgery if I Have Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are a condition affecting the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract. They will be found in the rectum and around the anus, and can produce a wide variety of symptoms. However, since this condition is often considered to be embarrassing, it will not be discussed much, which means that the majority of people do not know what it involves or how the hemorrhoids can be treated.
As with many conditions affecting the colorectal region, it is often assumed that invasive surgical procedures will be required for treatment of the symptoms. This could be another reason why so many people are reluctant to visit a doctor when they first notice a problem. However, in order for a definitive diagnosis to be made, you will need to make an appointment with a colorectal specialist. This will allow the extent of your hemorrhoids to be assessed, and also the locations determined. Hemorrhoids can be either internal or external, and this will result in different symptoms occurring.
The majority of cases of hemorrhoids do not require any surgical treatment. Your colorectal surgeon will be able to advise you of some simple steps that you can take to reduce your symptoms, eliminate the hemorrhoids and prevent them from recurring in the future. If further treatment is required, then the most common method is a procedure called banding. This involves placing a very tight elastic band around the base of the hemorrhoid in order to cut off the blood supply. The lack of blood means that the hemorrhoid will fall off within a week of having the treatment. You may not realize when this has occurred, since the hemorrhoid tissue will simply pass out of the body along with the fecal matter. If you notice some mucus with the stools, then this is usually a good indication that a hemorrhoid has fallen off. It is possible, although extremely rare, that an infection or ulcer may develop at the site of the banding. Your doctor will tell you what the symptoms of this are, so that you can be treated quickly if any complications do occur.
Large internal hemorrhoids that cannot be treated by in office procedures may require surgery. This procedure is called a hemorrhoidectomy, and will usually only be carried out if banding has been unsuccessful or the hemorrhoids are too large to be treated in this way. There have been several advances in hemorrhoid surgery which have greatly improved the patient experience. Options such as hemorrhoid ligation, or stapling have been developed to decrease the pain and recovery of hemorrhoid surgery. You should discuss all of the options, including the benefits and risks of each, with your specialist colorectal surgeon before you make any decisions about how you want to proceed.