Hemorrhoidal tissue is a normal part of human anatomy. Made up of blood vessels, connective tissue, and muscle, hemorrhoidal tissue lines the anus and lower portion of your rectum.
Though it may seem like everyone has problems with their hemorrhoidal tissue, also known as hemorrhoids; enlarged, swollen, symptomatic hemorrhoids affect only about 5% of people, according to the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons.
Most hemorrhoids improve with at-home care. But when your hemorrhoids continue to be a problem, we can help. At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri, our board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, is an expert in anorectal disorders like hemorrhoids.
We offer innovative treatments like infrared coagulation (IRC) to ease your discomfort. IRC is considered one of the safeset, most effective early treatments for internal hemorrhoids.
Though we perform IRC treatments all the time, you may not be all that familiar with this hemorrhoid treatment and what to expect during recovery. So, here’s what you need to know.
The different hemorrhoids
Whenever possible, we prefer taking a nonsurgical approach to treating hemorrhoids. However, not all hemorrhoids are the same.
You can have external hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels that form under the sensitve anal tissue, or you might have internal hemorrhoids, which are located in the lower rectum.
In most cases, internal hemorrhoids are painless, only causing blood in stool during a bowel movement. However, internal hemorrhoids may prolapse, which means the swollen vein bulges out from the lower rectum during a bowel movement.
When you have internal hemorrhoids, we grade them based on whether they prolapse or not and the severity of the prolapse.
- Grade 1 — no prolapse
- Grade 2 — prolapse that retracts on its own
- Grade 3 — prolapse you have to push back in
- Grade 3 — painful prolapse you can’t push back in
How we treat your hemorrhoids, whether you have external or internal hemorrhoids, depends on symptoms and the severity of your condition.
What is IRC?
We only perform IRC treatments for our patients with internal hemorrhoids that are grade 2 or grade 3.
IRC is an in-office treatment that uses infrared light to heat the hemorrhoidal tissue, creating a scar that cuts off blood supply to the swollen vein. The hemorrhoid dies, and scar tissue forms, helping to prevent the other veins in the lower rectum from swelling and bulging.
There’s no special preparation needed before an IRC treatment. You can eat and drink before the procedure and even plan on driving yourself home.
Though we don’t use any anesthesia for the minimally invasive hemorrhoid treatment, we may apply lidocaine to the internal hemorrhoid to decrease discomfort. Once you’re ready, we place the IRC tool so it has direct contact with your internal hemorrhoid and administer the heat for a second or two.
The IRC treatments only take seconds, and your appointment shouldn’t last longer than an hour.
We only treat one hemorrhoid at a time, repeating your IRC treatments every 10-14 days as needed.
Recovering from IRC treatments
What can you expect during recovery from IRC treatments? Mild to moderate pain for up to five days that you can treat with over-the-counter pain medication and sitz baths (soaking your bottom for 15 minutes a few times a day in a small tub of warm water).
You can also expect anal bleeding for 7 to 10 days.
To minimize pain and bleeding during your IRC recovery, we recommend you drink plenty of fluids and take a stool softener with fiber to reduce the risk of constipation. We also advise that you not lift anything that weighs more than 20 pounds during your first week of recovery.
IRC is a simple, quick, trouble-free treatment for internal hemorrhoids. Let us help you get relief. Call our office at 636-228-3136 to schedule an appointment today.