A hemorrhoidectomy is a procedure used to remove external haemorrhoids. External haemorrhoids develop over time and are caused by straining during bowel movements, childbirth and constipation. External haemorrhoids can cause pain during sitting, standing and bowel movements. A hemorrhoidectomy is most effective if performed within 72 hours after the haemorrhoid develops. Haemorrhoids can be removed with either a scalpel or a laser, and the surgery comes with some risk of complication.
If you elect to have a hemorrhoidectomy beyond the suggested 72-hour period, the pain that you feel from the surgery may be greater than the relief you feel from the removal. Many people experience both general pain and pain during bowel movements following a hemorrhoidectomy. Some patients complain of a tearing sensation during bowl movements after surgery.
Some patients experience extensive bleeding after a hemorrhoidectomy. This may be in response to the drug epinephrine wearing off after the surgery is complete. Some doctors will use a surgical suture, or stitch, to help prevent significant bleeding. You can take stool softeners and drink fluids to soften the stool and reduce the risk of tearing the suture.
Extensive scarring, or anal stenosis, is one rare but potentially serious side effect of a hemorrhoidectomy. Stenosis occurs in 5 to 10 per cent of patients who undergo this procedure. After a hemorrhoidectomy, scar tissue can make the anal opening too small so that it cannot relax or open properly. If the scarring is mild, a doctor may be able to treat it by prescribing stool softeners or fibre supplements. More severe cases may require additional surgery.
In a study cited by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, haemorrhoids reappeared in about 6 per cent of procedures. This percentage is far lower than the recurrence rate among those who developed haemorrhoids and treated them without surgery. People who treated haemorrhoids through non-surgical methods saw a recurrence rate of about 25 per cent. In addition, recurrence in those who had haemorrhoids treated surgically occurred after an average of 25 months while those who treated haemorrhoids non-surgically saw a recurrence after about seven months.
In most cases, blood from the haemorrhoid will be reabsorbed by the body and the external haemorrhoid will disappear on its own from a few days to a few weeks after it develops. If haemorrhoids are only causing you mild discomfort, you can treat them with over-the-counter creams, ointments and pads containing witch hazel. Increasing your dietary fibre, drinking more fluids, exercising and avoiding straining during bowel movements will decrease your risk of developing haemorrhoids. If they are causing you severe pain and discomfort, talk to you physician about the risks and benefits of a hemorrhoidectomy.