Haemorrhoids (or piles) are a swelling of the blood vessels within the anus. Everybody has these blood vessels. It is only when they cause problems such as bleeding, itching or that they come out of the anus (prolapsing) that we call them haemorrhoids.
Haemorrhoids are a common problem and will affect up to 30% of any population in western civilisation. The cause is a result of many factors, recurrent constipation and straining, frequent diarrhoea, a family history of haemorrhoids and sometimes from an inborn weakness in the elastic tissues of the body that can allow blood vessels to swell and not return to their normal size, similar to varicose veins of the leg. Most frequently it is a combination of two or more of the above factors.
Many cases of piles are short lived, and the symptoms settle after a few days. Normally, simple conservative measures such as a laxative to keep the stool and soft and to avoid straining is enough to settle things down.
However on occasions the symptoms do not settle or recur frequently, and some type of treatment is required. This can involve injecting the piles with an oil to shrink them down if they are small or perhaps even putting on a rubber band if they are a little larger. However, the results from these treatments is not always reliable and patients often find themselves having it repeated on a frequent basis.
For more resistant cases or where the piles are very large a haemorrhoidectomy or Milligan-Morgan procedure will be advocated. This is a particularly painful procedure and can take many weeks to recover from. One only has to ‘Google’ haemorrhoidectomy to read the horror stories offered by patients who have had this operation. Most of us will know someone who has had it and the stories are much the same.
Nowadays a newer and less invasive procedure exists to deal with large and prolapsing haemorrhoids which does not involve any cutting, post-operative dressings or salt baths and the majority of patients will get back to a pretty normal lifestyle within a week or two. This operation, the HALO or HAL-RAR procedure was recently featured on Channel 9’s Embarrassing Bodies programme. Pain is significantly reduced, and most patients are getting back on their feet within a few days.
In fact in the modern era there is absolutely no need to have your piles cut out at all. The HAL-RAR operation is now available in Australia and Dr. Gold has now performed over 1,500 of these HAL/RAR procedures having started performing the procedure, when first available in Europe, in 2001.
For a consultation and a more detailed explanation of modern haemorrhoid surgery please contact Dr Gold.
For more information on haemorrhoids, visit Haemorrhoid Information Service. Alternatively, watch this two-part informative video below.