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.
While many people can manage their hemorrhoids though over-the-counter treatments or other medical interventions, some hemorrhoids require surgery to remove them. This surgery, known as a hemorrhoidectomy, offers long-term relief. The first few days after surgery, however, can be painful and difficult. That is why newer techniques such as PPH and THD have evolved. They are much less uncomfortable after they are performed.
For the first hour in the recovery area, you’ll probably be instructed to remain flat on your back in bed. This helps reduce the risk of side effects from the anesthesia, primarily feeling tired and disoriented.
What Will My Doctor Recommend?
One of the best ways to reduce pain and discomfort after a hemorrhoidectomy is by taking a 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, reducing pain. It’s important, though, to use plain water only. You should not be soaking in soap, Epson salt or other additives not recommended by your doctor. Occasional use of an ice pack can also help reduce swelling and pain, although care must be taken not to apply the pack directly to the skin.
Some doctors allow use of a donut ring, which has a hole in the middle to make sitting more comfortable. Its use should not be used however, since it does not properly support the anus.
Note that some doctors disallow the use of these ring-shaped cushions, and the advice of your surgeon should always be followed.
Your doctor will probably also stress the importance of eating well and drinking plenty of fluids in the days and weeks following surgery. A high-fiber diet, eight to ten glasses of non-carbonated liquids and avoiding caffeine will help make bowel movements easier, and prevent other unwanted side effects.
How Can I Keep The Incision Clean?
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 procedure. Most patients find that washing off in the bath or shower is the most effective method. A handheld shower head or bidet attachment makes this process even easier. However, the anal area is remarkably self-cleaning and no extra cleaning is 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 may damage the skin. Some patients report using a small fan speeds drying 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 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.
What About Medication?
Properly using medications can not only ensure your pain is reduced after surgery, it can also ensure you’re healing as quickly as possible. While your doctor will most likely give you a prescription painkiller, it is recommended that you limit their use. Opioid painkillers often cause constipation. Tylenol or other over-the-counter products should be used if you can effectively manage the pain without the prescription drugs.
Since it is vital to avoid constipation, your doctor may prescribe stool softeners or a laxative. Follow the instructions on these medications carefully; taking too much can slow healing. Diarrhea or loose stools often lead to swelling and pain, and the frequent bowel movements can further irritate the area where the incision was made.
What Does Long-term Recovery Look Like?
Most people can return to work a week to ten days after hemorrhoid surgery, although a complete recovery can take six to eight weeks. While surgery offers relief to most people, it is important to remember that hemorrhoids can recur if the right steps aren’t taken to prevent them. This includes eating a high-fiber diet and staying well-hydrated. Your doctor may also recommend fiber supplements or stool softeners. Staying active is important, and you should minimize the time spent sitting. Making these changes can help prevent the need for future hemorrhoid treatment.