What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are masses of swollen blood vessels that occur near the anus, developing as a result of increased pressure and strain on your rectum. Although they can affect anyone, they're more likely to occur in people who sit or stand for long periods of time and those who are very overweight or obese. They also occur frequently in pregnancy as the weight of the belly begins to press on the lower intestine and colon. Straining to have a bowel movement and having frequent constipation can also result in hemorrhoids.

What symptoms do hemorrhoids cause?

Hemorrhoids are most commonly associated with itching, burning or pain in the rectum, and they can also cause some bleeding, usually following a bowel movement. Some hemorrhoids may cause bleeding without significant discomfort. Large hemorrhoids may also make it uncomfortable to sit. The symptoms caused by hemorrhoid can range in severity from mild to severe.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Traditionally, hemorrhoids have been treated using a banding technique where small elastic bands are placed around the hemorrhoid, cutting off blood flow and causing the tissue to drop off. But more recently, laser techniques have been developed and approved for the treatment of hemorrhoids, and studies have shown the laser technique can result in much less discomfort, improved quality of life and improved results compared to the banding technique. During this technique, a very small probe is used to administer a brief burst of light energy to the area just above the hemorrhoid where there are very few pain-sensitive nerve endings, causing the tissue to coagulate, or clump together, and cutting off blood flow to the affected area. The technique is simple, safe and can be performed in the office as an outpatient procedure.