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What can I Expect from an External Hemorrhoidectomy?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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External hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that protrude through the anus and are visible on the outside of the body. These external hemorrhoids may cause itching and pain, and in some cases blood clots may form. An external hemorrhoidectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure that is performed to remove these swollen blood vessels. The surgery generally takes less than two hours to perform, and recovery usually takes between two and three weeks.

Just before an external hemorrhoidectomy, medication known as anesthesia is delivered to the patient so that no pain is felt during the procedure. There are three forms of anesthesia used, depending on the severity of the hemorrhoids as well as the personal preferences of the patient and the surgeon. General anesthesia may be used to completely sedate the patient so that there is no knowledge of the procedure as it is occurring. Spinal anesthesia numbs the patient only from the waist down, and local anesthesia numbs only the area on which the procedure is taking place.

During the external hemorrhoidectomy procedure, the patient will lie face down on the operating table. The buttocks will be slightly elevated so that the rectal area is exposed. This area is then thoroughly cleaned with an antiseptic solution to prevent the chances of infection. Once the rectal area has been prepped for surgery and the anesthesia has taken effect, the surgical procedure can begin.

The external hemorrhoidectomy procedure itself consists of the surgeon clamping the hemorrhoids, and these swollen blood vessels may also be tied off in order to interrupt the blood supply. The surgeon then cuts the hemorrhoids from the body and closes the wound caused by the procedure. The anus may then be packed with gauze, or an antibiotic ointment may be applied. The entire procedure takes between one and two hours to complete.

Recovery from an external hemorrhoidectomy typically takes between two and three weeks. During this time, the patient should rest as much as possible, and often some time away from work or other normal activities is required. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed after the procedure, and the patient can switch to an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen as the pain begins to lessen. Stool softeners may be needed for a while following surgery so that bowel movements are as comfortable as possible during the recovery period. Normal activities can begin slowly as directed by the doctor.

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