What is hemorrhoid infrared photocoagulation?

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Infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids: Overview

Infrared photocoagulation treats hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectal area. This treatment is only for internal hemorrhoids.

To do the procedure, your doctor uses a beam of infrared light. The light creates heat that scars hemorrhoids and cuts off their blood flow. They shrink and fall off in 7 to 10 days.

Most of the time, this procedure is done in the doctor's office. Your doctor will treat one hemorrhoid at a time. You may feel heat and some pain. It takes about 30 minutes.

Make sure not to lift anything heavy until you heal. It's also important not to strain when you have a bowel movement.

How can you care for yourself after an infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • For 2 to 3 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
  • You may take showers and baths as usual. Pat your anal area dry when you are done.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You may need to take a few days off from work. It depends on the procedure you had, the type of work you do, and how you feel.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try eating bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor has told you not to).
  • It is important to eat high-fiber foods after your procedure. This will make it easier to have bowel movements and keep your hemorrhoids from coming back.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your procedure. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • You may apply numbing medicines before and after bowel movements to relieve pain.

Other instructions

  • Sit in a few inches of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day and after bowel movements. Then pat the area dry. Do this as long as you have pain in your anal area.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Support your feet with a small step stool when you sit on the toilet. This helps flex your hips and places your pelvis in a squatting position. This can make bowel movements easier after your procedure.
  • Try lying on your stomach with a pillow under your hips to decrease swelling.

How well does infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids work?

Infrared photocoagulation works for about 7 to 10 out of 10 people who have it. But improvements may not last. And 2 out of 10 people may need surgery.

What can you expect as you recover from infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

After the procedure, you may feel pain and have a feeling of fullness in your lower belly, or you may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement. This usually goes away after several days. You may need pain medicine during this time.

You may have a small amount of bleeding from your anus about 7 to 10 days after surgery, when your hemorrhoid falls off. This is normal.

You will probably need to take a few days off from work.

You will need to avoid heavy lifting and straining with bowel movements while you recover.

After infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids: Overview

After the procedure to treat your hemorrhoids, you may feel pain and have a feeling of fullness in your lower belly, or you may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement. This usually goes away within several days after the surgery. You may need pain medicine during this time.

You may have a small amount of bleeding from your anus about 7 to 10 days after surgery, when your hemorrhoid falls off. This is normal.

You will probably need to take a few days off from work.

You will need to avoid heavy lifting and straining with bowel movements while you recover.

How is infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids done?

During the procedure, your doctor uses an intense beam of infrared light. The light creates heat that scars the hemorrhoid. This stops blood flow to the hemorrhoids. The hemorrhoids shrink and fall off 7 to 10 days after the procedure.

You may feel heat and some pain during the procedure.

You will be able to go home right after the procedure.

Why is infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids done?

Doctors recommend coagulation therapy in cases where small internal hemorrhoids continue to cause symptoms after home treatment.

What happens on the day of your infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the doctor's office

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be awake during the procedure. You may get medicine that relaxes you.
  • The procedure will take about 30 minutes.
  • You will be able to go home right after the procedure.

How long does infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids take?

The procedure takes about 30 minutes.

How do you prepare for infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • You may need to empty your colon with an enema or laxative. Your doctor will tell you how to do this.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What are the risks of infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

Risks of coagulation therapy include:

  • Considerable pain during the procedure.
  • Bleeding from the anus.
  • Infection in the anal area.
  • Temporary inability to urinate.

What is infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids?

Infrared photocoagulation treats hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectal area. In most cases, this procedure can be done in the doctor's office. Only one hemorrhoid can be treated at a time. This treatment is only for internal hemorrhoids.

After hemorrhoid infrared photocoagulation: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You are short of breath.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.