Hemorrhoidectomy Recovery Tips: Reduce the Pain After Hemorrhoid Surgery

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

As many as 75 out of every 100 people will be affected by hemorrhoids during their lifetime, and half of all people over the age of 50 have felt the burning, itching, bleeding, 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 through over-the-counter treatments or in-office medical interventions, some need a hemorrhoidectomy, which offers long-term relief and greatly reduces the risk of recurrence.

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So today, we’ll share some hemorrhoidectomy recovery tips from a board-certified hemorrhoid surgeon to help you reduce your recovery period.

Worst day after hemorrhoidectomy

The first few days after a traditional hemorrhoidectomy surgery are often painful and difficult. You will likely be called for a follow-up appointment 2-3 weeks after your hemorrhoid surgery, and it’s important that you show up. During this appointment, your doctor may examine your rectal area to ensure you are recovering well and that there is no narrowing, which can be a complication of hemorrhoid surgery. In case the narrowing is present, you may be given daily anal dilators to ensure your anal canal remains patent and that you don’t face difficulty in passing stool in the future.

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. After you wake up from surgery, you will be asked to stay on bed rest for the first 30 minutes in the recovery area. This helps reduce the risk of side effects from the anesthesia, primarily feeling tired and disoriented. Also, make sure to change the outer gauze daily.

Use 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 few weeks after your surgery. Soaking in warm water will help you to relax the pelvic muscles 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 soak your anus in soap, Epsom salt, or other additives if not recommended by your doctor. Our doctors also recommend the occasional 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 pillow, 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 using 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.

Consider Using A Sanitary Napkin

You may 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 absorbent pad to avoid staining your clothing.

While some people prefer folding gauze and tucking it between the cheeks, others rely on panty liners, B-Sure, or ARD pads designed for bowel incontinence. This is to catch any small amount of blood or mucus discharge which can normally occur in the first few weeks after hemorrhoid surgery.

Frequent bowel movements after hemorrhoidectomy

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 to 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 to relieve pain after hemorrhoid surgery

Of course, lifestyle changes are an important part of recovering from hemorrhoid surgery, but so is pain medication. There are several pain medications available for hemorrhoid patients, such as lidocaine — a topical medication — and oral pain relievers.

Importantly, opioid painkillers often cause constipation — which must be avoided post-op — 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 instead of narcotic painkillers if you can effectively manage the pain with them.

Since it is vital to avoid constipation, your doctor may prescribe stool softeners or motility medication. Follow the instructions on these medications carefully; taking too much can cause diarrhea or frequent stools, leading to swelling and pain and possibly slower healing.

Ask your doctor about these drugs to make your hemorrhoid surgery recovery easier.

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 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 in a cool setting to dry after a sitz bath or shower.

What helps reduce pain after hemorrhoidectomy?

Pain medication like Tylenol, stool softeners, topical analgesics, and sitting in a warm bath immediately after bowel movements can help reduce pain after hemorrhoid surgery.

How long do bowel movements hurt after hemorrhoidectomy?

Bowel movements may hurt for 2-4 weeks after hemorrhoidectomy. But this can vary depending on how the surgery went, how closely you followed your doctor’s instructions, and whether there were any complications during the recovery period.

What can you not do after hemorrhoid surgery?

After hemorrhoid surgery, you should avoid moving too quickly, heavy lifting, straining during bowel movements, and going to work during hemorrhoid surgery recovery. Generally, you will want to take it pretty easy for a few days to week until your body has had the opportunity to recover.

How long does it take to recover from hemorrhoid surgery

You’ll be able to resume most of your daily activities within 1-2 weeks. After 4-6 weeks, you’ll be well enough to tolerate a rectal examination during a follow-up appointment. However, keep in mind that the recovery period is different for everyone and depends on various factors.

How long after hemorrhoid surgery can I go back to work?

Most patients 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.

Can I drink coffee after hemorrhoid surgery?

Yes, you can drink coffee after hemorrhoid surgery. However, you don’t want to drink too much coffee because excess caffeine can lead to constipation, which can prolong the hemorrhoid surgery recovery process.

What is the fastest way to recover from a hemorrhoidectomy?

The fastest way to recover from a hemorrhoidectomy is to follow your doctor’s advice and rest. The body has a natural healing mechanism, and there’s nothing you can do to speed it up. But by following your doctor’s instructions, you can ensure that the healing process remains optimized.

How long does swelling last after hemorrhoidectomy?

Swelling after hemorrhoidectomy can last for a few days to a week. Swelling is a normal response to any surgery and is nothing to worry about. However, if your swelling persists or starts worsening, then you should speak to your healthcare provider.

Life after hemorrhoid surgery

Your doctor will 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 sitting time 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.

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