Recovering After Hemorrhoid Surgery Treatment

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum. They may itch, bleed, or cause pain. Severe hemorrhoids sometimes need to be removed by a surgeon.

Recovery from hemorrhoid treatment or surgery typically lasts one to six weeks. The timeline depends on a few things, including:

  • The type of treatment
  • The severity of the hemorrhoids
  • The number removed

Many patients say recovery from this type of surgery is very painful. You can expect at least some pain and discomfort for one to four weeks after the procedure.

This article discusses recovery time after hemorrhoid surgery. It also looks at some potential complications and the steps you can take to speed your recovery and lessen pain.

Types of Hemorrhoid Surgery

Recovery after hemorrhoid surgery depends on the type of procedure. Some of the most common are:

  • Hemorrhoidectomy, a surgery to remove hemorrhoids
  • Sclerotherapy, a less invasive treatment that involves injecting the area around the hemorrhoids with a chemical solution to close off the veins
  • Hemorrhoid banding, which involves cutting off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid with a rubber band

Recovery Timeline

Most patients start to feel better at the end of the first week. This is especially true if you can keep your bowel movements soft or slightly loose. Pain will be much worse if your stool is hard or if you have to strain to have a bowel movement.

Try to avoid constipation while you recover. Remember that prescribed pain medications may cause constipation. If you usually take constipation medication, you may need a different strategy to prevent constipation while you recover.

Most people are able to resume non-strenuous activities a week after treatment. You should be able to resume all normal activities within two to three weeks.

Recap

Most patients start to feel better after a week. You can expect to be able to return to normal activities in about three weeks.

Common Symptoms Following Hemorrhoid Surgery
Verywell / Cindy Chung

Pain After Hemorrhoid Treatment

It is common to have pain in the week following treatment. Some procedures are more painful than others. Your pain may be significant or you may simply feel discomfort.

A hemorrhoidectomy usually results in more pain than sclerotherapy. Hemorrhoid banding usually results in much less discomfort.

Your level of pain will also depend on how severe your hemorrhoids were, and whether your stools stay soft while you are recovering. You may also have pain with urination.

Sclerotherapy of a small, single hemorrhoid may result in minor pain. A hemorrhoidectomy of multiple very large hemorrhoids may result in significant pain.

No matter which treatment you have, it is normal to have pain with a bowel movement in the week after surgery. Straining and pushing can make the pain much worse.

Coping With Recovery

There are a few options for pain management. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication, such as Advil (ibuprofen). Prescription pain medication may be helpful for severe pain.

Your doctor may recommend a stool softener, a laxative, or both. A stool softener helps make stools easier to pass. A laxative promotes bowel movements, either by increasing the bulk of stool or stimulating the bowel. These will help prevent straining with bowel movements in the first week after surgery.

A sitz bath may be help relieve pain. This is a shallow, warm-water bath that can be done either in a bathtub or using a basin similar to a bedpan that fits over a toilet. Soaking the rectal area in a sitz bath can provide significant pain relief. This can be done several times per day.

Recap

Pain can be controlled with pain medication, stool softeners, laxatives, and sitz baths.

Diet

Your doctor may recommend a special diet. A diet high in fiber will soften your stool.

It is also important to drink plenty of water while you are recovering. The typical recommendation is at least 8 cups, or 64 ounces per day.

Talk to your doctor if you notice a change in stool appearance.

Return to Activities

Though it's typical to return to normal activities in a couple of weeks, your timeline can vary. Let pain be your guide.

You may feel pain during certain activities, like:

  • Bending
  • Squatting
  • Lifting
  • Moving from a standing position to a seated position

Try to minimize painful activities as much as possible. This is especially important in the first few days after your procedure.

Recap

Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in fiber. Avoid activities that cause pain.

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence is when stool leaks from the rectum. Some patients may have incontinence of small amounts of stool after a hemorrhoidectomy.

This is usually short-term. In most patients, it resolves during the recovery period.

Talk to your doctor if you have incontinence that does not improve in the weeks following surgery.

Itching

External hemorrhoids often itch. The itching may continue while you are healing. Itching is a normal sign of healing in a surgical incision or areas of scarring.

A sitz bath may help with itching. Your doctor may also prescribe a topical medication. Treatment for itching depends on the severity of your symptoms and the location where the hemorrhoid was removed.

Many topical hemorrhoid creams provide very effective itch relief. Ask your surgeon if it is okay to use these during recovery. The answer often depends on what type of procedure you had.

Bleeding

Some bleeding is not uncommon just after your procedure. You may notice some blood in the toilet or in your undergarments.

A small amount of blood is not unusual. If you see large amounts of blood, tell your doctor.

Bleeding may increase with bowel movements. This is especially true in the first 48 to 72 hours after your procedure.

If you are passing blood clots, tell your surgeon unless you were told to expect this.

Recap

Some patients have short-term fecal incontinence during recovery. You may also have itching and small amounts of bleeding. Call your doctor if the bleeding seems severe.

Infection

Infection is a risk after hemorrhoid treatment. This is because of the location of the treatment.

Stool that contacts the site where the hemorrhoid was removed can contribute to an infection.

Watch for signs of infection. These may include general signs such as a fever, or more specific signs such as the presence of pus. Report these to your doctor so you can get the right treatment.

Long-Term Recovery

Continue to eat foods high in fiber even after you have recovered. Drink plenty of water and avoid straining on the toilet. Avoid constipating foods like cheese.

Exercise can decrease constipation. Even a simple 15-minute walk can help. This is because exercise helps stimulate the bowels. Twisting motions like those done in yoga and toe touches are good exercises to help with bowel movements.

Not all hemorrhoids can be prevented. Still, following these recommendations can greatly reduce the likelihood that your hemorrhoids will recur.

Summary

How long it takes to recover from hemorrhoid surgery depends on a few different factors. If you can keep your bowel movements soft, you should feel better by the end of the first week. Avoiding constipation will help you avoid pain. 

Over-the-counter pain medication and a sitz bath can help relieve pain. Your doctor may also prescribe stronger pain medications, stool softeners, or laxatives. A diet high in fiber and plenty of water can help keep your stools soft. You can resume normal activities when your pain subsides. 

Some patients may experience fecal incontinence. This usually resolves during the recovery time. Itching and small amounts of bleeding are also common after surgery. Tell your doctor if there is a lot of bleeding or signs of infection.

Keep eating lots of fiber and drinking plenty of water even after you've recovered. Along with exercise, this can help keep your hemorrhoids from recurring.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should you get hemorrhoid surgery?

    Your doctor may suggest surgery if:

    • Your hemorrhoids are large
    • You have both internal and external hemorrhoids
    • You have bleeding and pain that isn't managed with other non-surgical treatments.

    With small hemorrhoids, your healthcare provider will usually suggest lifestyle changes first. This may include eating a high-fiber diet and drinking lots of water.

  • When can you drive after surgery?

    You should make arrangements for someone to drive you home from surgery and in the days after, while you still have pain. Avoid driving while you are using pain medication.

  • What should you eat after hemorrhoid surgery?

    Your healthcare provider may suggest sticking with clear liquids on the first day after surgery. These may include things like:

    • Broth
    • Juice
    • Clear soda
    • Popsicles

    In the days that follow, add fiber to your diet with foods like:

    • Whole grains
    • Fresh fruits
    • Fresh vegetables

    Avoid foods that cause constipation, like dairy, red meat, and processed foods.

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7 Sources
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