Every year, about 4 million people in the United States visit their doctor or the emergency room for hemorrhoids. Though you can treat hemorrhoids at home, it’s always best to consult with a professional, so you get the right care.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri, our board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, creates personalized treatment plans for our hemorrhoid patients based on hemorrhoid type and symptoms.
We may recommend infrared coagulation (IRC), a quick, painless, in-office treatment for internal hemorrhoids that fail to respond to at-home treatment or keep coming back.
Here, we want to talk about IRC and how effective it is for treating hemorrhoids.
What to know about IRC
IRC is a nonsurgical treatment for hemorrhoids. It uses infrared energy to coagulate — clot — the blood in the swollen vein. The blood clots stop blood flow through the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink.
The clotted hemorrhoid usually falls off about 7-10 days after IRC. With at-home care, anal discomfort resolves within a few days, but it can take up to six weeks for the hemorrhoid to completely go away.
IRC for internal hemorrhoids
We only use IRC to treat internal hemorrhoids. These are the hemorrhoids that form in the lower rectum. These types of hemorrhoids are usually painless but cause blood in stool.
However, internal hemorrhoids may prolapse or fall through the anal opening during a bowel movement. A prolapsed internal hemorrhoid can cause severe pain.
External hemorrhoids form around the anus. These types of hemorrhoids may cause some anal discomfort like itching, but are usually painless. If you have large external hemorrhoids, you may need a hemorrhoidectomy — surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.
Most in-office and surgical treatments are only recommended for internal hemorrhoids, except for the hemorrhoidectomy for large external hemorrhoids.
How effective is IRC?
IRC is a safe and effective treatment for internal hemorrhoids, and most people get good results.
According to a 2018 clinical study published in the Journal of Lasers in Medical Sciences, IRC causes less pain and bleeding than a hemorrhoidectomy, and patients get back to their usual activities a lot sooner.
However, there’s no cure for hemorrhoids, and they can return following IRC.
No matter what type of hemorrhoids you have or the treatments we provide, we encourage lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of a recurrence. This includes adding more fiber to your diet, drinking more fluids, and not sitting on the toilet for long periods.
When it comes to problematic internal hemorrhoids, IRC works for most people. To see if it can help you, call our office at 636-228-3136 to schedule an appointment today.