If you’ve got hemorrhoids, you’re not alone — in the United States, nearly three in four adults develop mild hemorrhoids from time to time, and approximately one in two adults past the age of 50 experience persistent hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids may be common, but they’re also highly treatable. As a board-certified general surgeon who specializes in hemorrhoid care and removal, Johnny L. Serrano, DO, FACOS offers comprehensive solutions for irritating hemorrhoids at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy in Glendale, Arizona. Here’s how he can help you.
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged veins that develop around your anus or within your lower rectum. Much like varicose veins, hemorrhoids occur when increased pressure on a vessel causes it to stretch, bulge, or swell.
You’re more likely to get hemorrhoids if your bowel movements are strained or irregular, if you do a lot of heavy lifting at the gym or at work, or if you don’t consume enough water or dietary fiber.
Other major hemorrhoid risk factors include pregnancy, obesity, and older age. These factors set the stage for hemorrhoids by stretching and destabilizing the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus.
The two basic hemorrhoid types, external and internal, are classified by their location:
These visible bulging veins appear around your anus, just beneath your skin. They’re usually itchy, irritating, and uncomfortable, and the overlying skin tends to be very sensitive.
An external hemorrhoid may bleed or become more painful if it grows larger, forms a blood clot (thrombosis), or if its overlying skin is eroded by constant irritation.
Swollen, enlarged veins that develop within the lining of your anus or rectum are called internal hemorrhoids. Although you can’t normally see or feel an internal hemorrhoid, a strained bowel movement may cause painless bleeding and momentary protrusion.
An internal hemorrhoid can become very uncomfortable if it prolapses, or pushes outward. It may become painfully “strangulated” if the muscles around your anus restrict its blood supply.
If you have mild to moderate hemorrhoid discomfort, swelling, or pain, Dr. Serrano may advise you to try conservative home remedies first.
This includes drinking more water and gradually increasing your intake of dietary fiber to make your stools softer and easier to pass. It also includes getting at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each day to stimulate bowel function.
Heading to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to go can also help you minimize strain during a bowel movement. Waiting or allowing the urge to pass gives your stool time to build up and dry out, making it that much harder to pass the next time around.
To alleviate pain, discomfort, and itching, Dr. Serrano may recommend witch hazel wipes or a topical hemorrhoid cream or suppository containing hydrocortisone. Sitting in a warm bath for a few minutes several times each day can help your hemorrhoid heal faster.
Some hemorrhoids persist despite conservative care measures, while others are too severe to be addressed with at-home treatments. Dr. Serrano removes problematic hemorrhoids via:
As the most common internal hemorrhoid removal procedure in the U.S., rubber band ligation places a small elastic band around the base of the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrivel and fall off within about a week.
Like rubber band ligation, this procedure removes an internal hemorrhoid by cutting off its blood supply. It’s done by injecting a chemical solution into the problematic vein, causing scar tissue formation that gradually shrinks the hemorrhoid.
Using laser energy, infrared light, or heat to coagulate a bleeding internal hemorrhoid causes it to harden and shrivel. This technique has minimal side effects and causes little discomfort.
Conventional hemorrhoid removal surgery may be the best solution if you have a persistent external hemorrhoid, a large prolapsed hemorrhoid, or an internal hemorrhoid that redevelops after a minimally invasive procedure like rubber band ligation.
During a hemorrhoidectomy, Dr. Serrano makes small incisions around the hemorrhoidal tissue and removes the problematic veins. It’s the most complete and effective way to treat severe or recurring hemorrhoids.
To schedule your hemorrhoid consultation at Precision Surgery and Advanced Vein Therapy, call 602-393-1304 today, or click online to book an appointment with Dr. Serrano any time.