Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anal canal. They may stay internal or they may protrude outside the anus, becoming external. Your healthcare provider can typically diagnose hemorrhoids on exam. While they may be uncomfortable, they’re relatively common in adults.
Hemorrhoids are typically treated initially with home remedies such as a high-fiber diet, cold compresses and daily sitz baths. Sometimes they may be treated with a prescription topical cream. If these or other remedies fail to work or if there is significant itchiness, pain or hemorrhoidal blood loss, your provider may recommend hemorrhoid banding.
Hemorrhoid banding, also called band ligation, is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that involves tying off the base of the hemorrhoid with a stretchy band to stop blood flow to the hemorrhoid. This is done using a small instrument inserted into your rectum during an office visit and results in the hemorrhoid(s) drying up and falling off in the days after. This can take between one and two weeks to happen. The hemorrhoids may be flushed away unnoticed, since they usually pass with bowel movements once they’ve fallen off.
You may feel some discomfort for a few days after hemorrhoid banding, including:
- Gas or flatulence
- Abdominal or rectal pain
- Abdominal swelling
Your provider may recommend taking a laxative to help prevent constipation and bloating. A stool softener can also help.
You may also notice some bleeding for a few days after the procedure. This is completely normal, but you should contact your provider if it’s more than a small amount (>1 tsp) or it doesn’t stop after two or three days.
Hemorrhoid banding is a relatively safe procedure, however, as with any procedure, it does carry a few risks including:
- Fever and chills
- Excessive bleeding during bowel movements
- Problems urinating
- Recurring hemorrhoids
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these or other significant symptoms after banding.
For stubborn hemorrhoids, banding can be an effective treatment option with few risks. You may need multiple treatments for the hemorrhoids to completely clear up. If you still have hemorrhoids after several banding sessions, you may need surgery to remove them.
Additional information about banding: