Recovering After Hemorrhoid Surgery

What You Can Expect After Hemorrhoid Treatments

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The recovery from a hemorrhoid treatment or surgery typically lasts one to three weeks, depending upon the type of treatment, the severity of the hemorrhoids, and the number removed. Many patients indicate that the recovery from this type of surgery is very painful, and some pain and discomfort are expected for two to three weeks after the procedure. Most patients begin to feel better at the end of the first week, especially if the patient is able keep their bowel movements soft or slightly loose.

 

Pain can be significant if the stool becomes hard or if straining is necessary to have a bowel movement. During the recovery constipation should be avoided whenever possible. Remember that the pain medications that are often prescribed for the recovery period are also known to cause constipation, so an individual who routinely takes constipation medication may need more than their typical regimen in order to prevent constipation.

The typical patient is able to return to non-strenuous activities a week after treatment, and resume all normal activities within two to three weeks.

Pain After Hemorrhoid Treatment

It is common to experience pain in the week following hemorrhoid treatment. Patients who have a hemorrhoidectomy, or surgery to remove hemorrhoids, will typically have more pain than a patient who elects to have sclerotherapy, a less invasive treatment. Hemorrhoid banding, a outpatient procedure, typically leads to minimal discomfort after treatments.

 

Dspending on the type of procedure you choose, your pain may be significant, or may be a feeling of discomfort. The level of pain a patient experiences after this procedure relates directly to the type of procedure, how severe the hemorrhoids were prior to surgery and the consistency of stool during bowel movements during the recovery period.

A surgery to treat a single small hemorrhoid using sclerotherapy may result in minor pain, a hemorrhoidectomy to remove multiple very large hemorrhoids may result in significant pain. 

After Hemorrhoid Surgery

Your doctor may choose to manage your pain in several different ways. Over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, may be recommended, or pain medication may be prescribed. Your physician may recommend a stool softener, a laxative, or both to prevent straining with bowel movements.

Dietary recommendations will be made to help prevent pain, including a diet high in fiber to soften the stool, and instructions to drink adequate water throughout the recovery phase, typically no less than eight cups (64 ounces) per day. It is absolutely essential to avoid constipation. That means following drinking water, eating fiber, and taking a stool softener when necessary.  

Regardless of the type of treatment, it is normal to have pain with a bowel movement in the week following surgery. Straining and pushing can make the pain significantly worse. Staying hydrated will help prevent constipation, which can be caused by prescription pain medications, a lack of fiber, or too little fluid. Pain with urination may also be present.

Stool softeners are typically recommended the first week after surgery to decrease pain with bowel movements.

It is important to let pain be your guide when resuming normal activities. You may feel pain when bending, squatting, lifting or moving from a standing position to a seated position. Minimize activities that are painful as much as possible, especially in the first few days after your procedure.

A sitz bath may be prescribed for pain relief. A sitz bath uses a special basin that is similar to a bed pan and fits over a toilet. You can then soak the rectal area in a few inches of warm water.

This may provide significant pain relief and can be done several times per day.

Itching After Hemorrhoid Treatment

Itching is a common symptom of external hemorrhoids and may continue during the healing phase after treatment. A sitz bath may be recommended to help with the itching. A topical medication may also be prescribed by your physician, depending on the severity of the symptoms and the location where the hemorrhoid was removed.

Itching is a normal sign of healing in a surgical incision or areas of scarring. Many topical hemorrhoid creams are very effective at relieving itching, ask your surgeon if it is appropriate to use these during your recovery as the answer varies between different types of procedures.

Infection After Surgery

Infection is a risk after hemorrhoid treatment due to the location of the treatment. Stool can come into contact with the site where the hemorrhoid was removed, and can contribute to an infection.

Any sign of infection, which may include general signs such as a fever, or more specific signs such as the presence of pus, must be reported to your physician so it can be treated effectively.

Bleeding After Surgery

Some bleeding is not uncommon immediately following your procedure. You may notice some blood in the toilet, or in your undergarments. A small amount of blood is not unusual; however, significant amounts of blood should be reported to your doctor.

Bleeding may increase with bowel movements, especially in the initial 48-72 hours following your procedure.  Passing blood clots should be reported to your surgeon unless you were told to expect this after surgery.

Life After Hemorrhoid Surgery

After your surgery, be sure to drink ample fluids, avoid straining with a bowel movement and to eat foods high in fiber even after your recovery.  Avoid food you know to be constipating, such as cheese.  Exercise, even something as simple as a 15 minute walk can decrease constipation by stimulating a bowel movement, as can twisting motions, such as those done in yoga and toe touches. 

These simple steps can often prevent a recurrence of hemorrhoids or help you avoid further treatment. Not all hemorrhoids can be prevented, but following these dietary recommendations can significantly reduce the likelihood of forming additional hemorrhoids.

Some patients may experience incontinence of small amounts of stool after having a hemorrhoidectomy, or hemorrhoid surgery. This is typically a short-term problem and resolves within the recovery period. If you experience this complication and it does not improve in the weeks following surgery, be sure to notify your physician.

Sources:

Hemorrhoid Surgery. Medline Plus. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002939.htm

Nelson H, Cima RR. Anus. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery.

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