When you read the word “hemorrhoid,” you know this discussion isn’t going to be pleasant — however, when it comes to leading a healthy and happy life, we often have to delve into unsavory topics. So, let’s get started on the latest news in this sensitive area. It seems that a newer surgery that was thought to be superior to the traditional hemorrhoid surgery could actually lead to a greater risk of reoccurrence and complications.
If you have hemorrhoids (a.k.a. piles), the veins around your anal or rectal areas (inside or outside) are swollen and inflamed. Other symptoms of this extremely common condition include itchiness, pain, swelling of the anus, and bleeding. Sometimes, an internal hemorrhoid will protrude outside the anus, causing more pain and irritability.
What causes this frustrating problem? Well, the main culprit is straining too much during a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids are also seen frequently in people affected by recurring constipation or diarrhea, or liver disease, and in older people and pregnant women. Generally, hemorrhoids are not serious and are supposed to go away within a few days. However, for some people, they are a constant and painful problem; in these cases, surgery might be deemed necessary.
Although there are several methods to remove hemorrhoids or reduce their size, the gold standard for surgery in this area is the “conventional excisional hemorrhoidectomy.” This just means that the offending inflamed veins are removed surgically. A more recent option is the “stapled hemorrhoidopexy.” This surgery, which dates back to originating in 1998, basically uses a staple to cut off the blood flow to the affected tissue. Hemorrhoid stapling has been gaining in popularity amongst sufferers, as it’s been shown to be less painful than traditional methods. Plus, it cuts down on healing time.
However, a recent review of 1998 to 2006 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, showed two negative aspects to hemorrhoid stapling. The researchers found that the patients who had hemorrhoid stapling done were more prone to a recurrence of their condition than patients who had standard surgery were. Breaking it down into numbers, 23 of 269 stapling patients had their hemorrhoids come back, versus four out of 268 in the regular surgery group.
Moreover, stapling patients were more likely to suffer from a rectal “prolapse” (when a portion of the rectum protrudes outside the body through the anus), even after a whole year. This often requires more surgery. In the studies reviewed, the hemorrhoid stapling procedure still demonstrated less pain, itching, and bowel movement problems.
These are issues that a patient considering hemorrhoid surgery should be made aware of. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one surgical procedure is better for all people suffering from chronic hemorrhoids. It really should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Obviously, both conventional and stapling surgeries have their pros and cons, a fact that this study review simply underscores. You need to discuss all the options and possible outcomes with your doctor before making a decision.
If you do suffer from hemorrhoids, know that there are many things you can try before even considering surgery (which should be your last resort). You can do these things in the comfort of your own home. A warm sitz bath is one favorite remedy; sit in a shallow tub of warm water three times a day for a minimum of 15 minutes. You can also try drinking more water and adding more fiber and green leafy vegetables to your diet, which will improve your bowel movements and help with constipation.
Consult with your doctor to see if you should be taking stool softeners or using creams or suppositories. Some of these last methods could aggravate your particular situation, so always talk to your medical health care provider first.