Hemorrhoids are common and not always a major medical concern. In fact, you may even get relief from your hemorrhoid symptoms with a few days of at-home treatment.
However, sometimes you need medical care for hemorrhoids, especially if they cause blood in stool. Though a common symptom of internal hemorrhoids, bleeding during a bowel movement may be a sign of something more serious, like colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, so it’s not a symptom you should ignore.
Our board-certified family physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri, is an anorectal disorder expert. Though she takes a conservative approach when treating hemorrhoids, she also offers nonsurgical, in-office options like infrared coagulation (IRC).
You may not be familiar with IRC and how it helps hemorrhoids, so we’d like to share everything you need to know.
IRC is a fast, nonsurgical treatment for hemorrhoids. It’s a type of coagulation therapy that uses an intense beam of infrared light to create scar tissue at the site of your hemorrhoid. The scar tissue cuts off blood supply to the hemorrhoid, so it shrinks.
In addition to treating your hemorrhoid, the scar tissue created by IRC acts like a seatbelt, keeping the other anal veins in place and preventing them from protruding into the anal canal.
Is IRC right for me?
We conduct a comprehensive evaluation for all our hemorrhoid patients before making any treatment recommendations, and we only use IRC to treat small or medium-sized internal hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids are swollen veins found inside the rectum. These types of hemorrhoids may not cause pain or itching, but they can cause bleeding during a bowel movement.
However, if your internal hemorrhoids protrude through your anal opening, they can cause anal discomfort.
IRC is a quick, minimally invasive, in-office treatment for internal hemorrhoids. There’s no need for any special preparation prior to the procedure, and you can drive yourself home afterward.
The infrared light treatment for your hemorrhoid takes a minute or less, and you may feel heat and some pain from the intense beam during the short procedure. Lower abdominal fullness and the urge to have bowel movement are common side effects following IRC.
We only treat one internal hemorrhoid at a time. If you have more than one hemorrhoid, we may schedule a series of IRC sessions so you get the best results.
Recovery from your IRC treatment takes about 7-10 days. During that time, you may have some pain and mild bleeding. We recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the pain, and stool softeners to minimize stress and stretching of the rectal tissue while it heals.
You also need to limit strenuous physical exercise and heavy lifting during the healing process.
If we need to treat additional internal hemorrhoids, we schedule your IRC treatments in 10- to 14-day intervals.
Once you finish your hemorrhoid treatment sessions, we help you incorporate lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing more hemorrhoids, like adding more fiber to your diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and not sitting on the toilet for long periods of time. There is no cure for hemorrhoids, but with help, you can manage it well.
When your hemorrhoid symptoms fail to improve with at-home care, we can help. Call our office — 636-228-3136 — to schedule a consultation with Dr. Clemens today.