Coagulation therapy, also popularly known as “infrared photocoagulation,” is widely used for treating small and medium-sized internal hemorrhoids.
The procedure involves using a device to create a beam of infrared light, which produces heat and causes scar tissue. As a result, the blood supply to the target hemorrhoid is inhibited, and consequently, hemorrhoid dies. Then, to prevent the nearby veins from bulging into the anal canal, the scar tissue holds them in place.
It’s important to note that infrared lights aren’t the only way to cut blood supply to the affected hemorrhoid. Electrical current or laser is also sometimes used for the said purpose. Based on the type, location, and size of your hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend one of the given methods for treatment.
So, how effective is it? Does it cause any pain? And how many visits to the doctor does it guarantee? Let’s find out.
How Many Hemorrhoids Can Be Treated In a Single Visit?
Even though infrared photocoagulation is widely regarded as one of the most successful treatments for internal hemorrhoids, not much can be achieved in a single session. This is because you can only have one hemorrhoid treated at a time. For the rest, your health care professional may assign an interval of up to 14 days.
What Happens Following the Procedure?
Since a critical part of the process is producing heat to cause scar tissue, you may inevitably feel some amount of pain or discomfort during the process. You may also feel a fullness sensation in your lower abdomen or a need to have a bowel movement. However, the discomfort is usually short-lived.
Moreover, you may also experience some bleeding when the hemorrhoid falls off, usually ten days after the procedure. Fortunately, it tends to stop by itself. Since there are several possibilities of what may happen following the procedure, your doctor may recommend the following to experience relief from pain or discomfort:
- A 15-minute long sitz bath at least thrice a day after using mild pain relievers
- They may also recommend avoiding the use of aspirin and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for at least five days before and after coagulation therapy. This is done to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- Avoid straining during your bowel movements as it may cause your hemorrhoids to come back.
- Incorporate fiber-rich stool softeners to ensure that your bowel movements remain smooth
Why Do You Need It?
If you have been trying out different home remedies to experience pain relief, but to no avail, then you may be recommended coagulation therapy. However, it must be noted that photocoagulation is only effective if it’s used to treat small internal hemorrhoids.
So, does it eliminate the need to get surgery? Even though infrared coagulation is highly regarded as an effective treatment for small internal hemorrhoids, it may not guarantee long-lasting improvements. Hence, there is a good chance that you may need surgery if the procedure hasn’t proved to be effective for you.
Coagulation Therapy Risks
Just like any other course of treatment, infrared photocoagulation also comes with its own set of risks and possible side effects. Some of them include:
- Inability to urinate for a short while
- A possible instance of bleeding from your anus
- Infection in your anal region
- Pain or discomfort during the procedure
How Effective Is Photocoagulation for Hemorrhoids?
Remember, the success or failure of infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids largely relies on your doctor’s expertise and your ability to change bowel habits to ensure that your stools pass easily. It often isn’t a one-way road and requires as much effort following the procedure.
However, it isn’t exactly the most economical course of treatment, even if it costs less than a surgery. Since you will be required to come more than once, the accumulative cost may vary depending on how many hemorrhoids need to be dealt with.
On the bright side, it doesn’t require a hospital stay or an unreasonably long amount of time away from your daily activities. Regardless, it’s important to acknowledge that not all doctors have the relevant equipment or expertise to carry out coagulation therapy.
This is why it’s imperative you do your research beforehand. Ask your doctor what procedure you require and whether they have ever performed it. Figure out how well the procedures they’ve performed have worked out for others, and then make a leap.
Stay wary of the costs and benefits of lasers, as they haven’t yet been proven to be any more effective than other treatments. Furthermore, they may also end up costing you an arm and a leg. If the surrounding tissue is damaged, then you may experience more scarring.
As with most other treatments for hemorrhoids, there’s some self-care involved following your procedure. For one, make sure to take a few days off from work as it may hinder your ability to recover well. Furthermore, avoid straining with bowel movements and lifting heavyweights.
The Bottom Line
In the end, infrared photocoagulation for hemorrhoids is one of the most widely used procedures that help get rid of small and medium-sized internal hemorrhoids. However, the key to making sure it works effectively is being well aware of your health care professional’s expertise and making certain lifestyle changes following the procedure.
Most importantly, don’t give up on the follow-up care as it ensures your post-procedure recovery and safety more than anything else. So, make sure not to miss out on any follow-up appointments and follow your doctor’s prescriptions and recommendations religiously.
All in all, understanding the risks associated with the procedure will help you determine whether it is the right course of treatment for you. However, remember that it still doesn’t guarantee long-term results, and you may have to resort to surgery if your doctor recommends it.