As many as 75 out of every hundred people will be affected by hemorrhoids during their lifetime, and half of all people over the age of of 50 have felt the burning, itching and pain brought by the condition, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Hemorrhoids are extremely common, but most people do not realize it because it is rare we discuss our symptoms and struggles even with close friends or family.
While many people can manage their hemorrhoids though over-the-counter treatments or in-office medical interventions, some hemorrhoids require more intensive treatments. This includes surgery to remove the inflamed tissue. This surgery, known as a hemorrhoidectomy, offers long-term relief and greatly reduces the risk of recurrence.
The first few days after a traditional hemorrhoidectomy surgery, however, are often painful and difficult. Today, newer techniques such as PPH and THD have evolved and offer an easier, less painful, and faster recovery time.
Get Started Right By Following Your Doctor’s Instructions
When it comes to reducing recovery time after a traditional hemorrhoid removal surgery, you should get started right away. From the moment you wake up after surgery, it is imperative you listen to your doctor’s instructions. For at least the first 30 minutes in the recovery area, you will remain in bed resting. This helps reduce the risk of side effects from the anesthesia, primarily feeling tired and disoriented.
By reducing the risk of side effects, you can ensure your recovery gets off on the right foot. Your doctor may also offer other advice and instructions for your recovery while you rest in the recovery room. You will likely go home the same day.
What Will My Doctor Recommend?
Doctors sometimes have their own recommendations for what they have seen work in other patients or based on your own condition. In general, a Los Angeles proctologist will likely recommend:
Using Warm Water and Cold Packs
One of the best ways to reduce pain and discomfort after a hemorrhoidectomy is by taking a warm sitz bath. Proctologists in Los Angeles usually recommend you take these shallow, warm baths several times a day during the first week after your surgery. Soaking in warm water will help you to relax and reduce swelling, both of which can help reduce your post-surgical pain.
It’s important, though, to use plain water only. You should not be soaking in soap, Epsom salt, or other additives if not recommended by your doctor. Our doctors also recommend the occasional use of an ice pack applied to the anus. This can also help to reduce swelling and pain, although care must be taken not to apply the pack directly to the sensitive skin around the anus.
Follow Your Surgeon’s Advice About Donut Rings
Some doctors allow the use of a donut ring, which is a cushion with a hole in the middle that can make sitting with hemorrhoids or after hemorrhoid surgery more comfortable. In our practice, we do not recommend the use of these ring-shaped cushions, because of the open center design, they do not properly support the anus. This could lead to worsening symptoms, slowed healing, or a recurrence of hemorrhoid symptoms.
Change Your Diet to Prevent Constipation
Your doctor will likely stress the importance of eating well and drinking plenty of fluids in the days and weeks following surgery. We recommend all hemorrhoidectomy patients add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diet on a permanent basis.
A high-fiber diet, eight to ten glasses of non-carbonated liquids, and avoiding caffeine will help prevent constipation and make bowel movements easier. The last thing you want to do in the first few days after a traditional hemorrhoidectomy is strain and push during a bowel movement. This could lead to delayed healing and other unwanted side effects. Remaining on a high fiber diet and staying hydrated also helps prevent hemorrhoids from recurring in the future.
How Can I Keep The Incision Clean After a Traditional Hemorrhoidectomy?
Cleaning yourself after a bowel movement can be one of the most painful and difficult things to do in the first few days after a hemorrhoidectomy surgery. Most patients find that rinsing off in the bath or shower is the most effective method to clean yourself without scrubbing or rubbing the sensitive skin around the anus.
A handheld shower head or bidet attachment that sprays warm water makes this process even easier. All you really need is warm water and sufficient water pressure to rinse off any remaining debris. It is important not to use harsh soaps. In fact, the anal area is remarkably self-cleaning and no soap is ever necessary.
Drying the area should be done by allowing it to air dry or patting it dry with a soft towel. Rubbing the incision site will be painful, and could damage the skin. Some patients tell us they use a small fan or hair dryer on a cool setting to dry after a sitz bath or shower.
You may also find that you have a moderate amount of bleeding for the first two weeks after surgery. While this will gradually decrease, the first few days often require using some form of sanitary napkin or absorbant pad to avoid staining your clothing. While some people have luck folding gauze and tucking it between the cheeks, others rely on pantyliners, or B-Sure or ARD pads that are designed for bowel incontinence.
Will I Need to Take Any Medication During Recovery?
Properly using medications can ensure your pain is reduced after surgery, but taking too much or the wrong kind it can prevent you from healing as quickly as possible. While your doctor will most likely give you a prescription painkiller to use in the first few days post-op, they will also recommended that you limit the use.
Opioid painkillers often cause constipation, but may be necessary to dull the pain during the first few days after your surgery. Once healing begins, Tylenol, Advil, or other over-the-counter products should be used if you can effectively manage the pain with them. Constipation is your worst enemy after a traditional hemorrhoidectomy, and you do not want to increase your risk of having a painful, hard bowel movement soon after surgery.
Since it is vital to avoid constipation, your doctor may also prescribe stool softeners or a laxative. Follow the instructions on these medications carefully; taking too much can slow healing. Too much stool softener causes diarrhea or loose stools, and this can lead to swelling and pain. Frequent bowel movements irritate the area around the incision, causing even more pain and discomfort.
What Does Long-term Recovery Look Like?
Most people can return to work in a week to ten days after hemorrhoid surgery, although a complete recovery can take six to eight weeks. While surgery offers lasting relief for most people, it is important to remember that hemorrhoids can recur if you do not take the right steps to prevent them.
Your doctor should recommend a high-fiber diet and staying well-hydrated, as well as fiber supplements or stool softeners. Staying active is also important, and you should minimize the time spent sitting when possible.
If you need help getting treatment for your hemorrhoids in Los Angeles or have questions about what to expect after your upcoming hemorrhoid surgery with Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates, give us a call today at (310) 273-2310.