Hemorrhoids are a painful and annoying affliction at best, but they create an even more serious problem when they protrude from the anal canal. These external, or prolapsed, hemorrhoids may require a more aggressive course of action than merely making lifestyle or diet changes. Doctors sometimes treat prolapsed hemorrhoids with a procedure called rubber band ligation. This article examines some of the key facts concerning this potentially helpful treatment. 

How It Works

Hemorrhoids need a supply of blood to flourish. When the flow of blood to the hemorrhoid is cut off, it withers away. During the procedure, your doctor will place a rubber band at the bottom of the hemorrhoid. This banding prevents blood from reaching the hemorrhoid, which causes it to decrease in size and ultimately fall off. The length of time the procedure lasts can vary, depending on the number of hemorrhoids that need banding. 

Where It Happens

Fortunately, your doctor is usually able to perform a rubber band ligation in an outpatient setting without anesthesia. In some instances, however, if a patient feels more than a normal amount of discomfort, the physician may administer a local anesthetic. Typically, only one or two hemorrhoids at a time can be banded in an outpatient clinic. If you have several hemorrhoids, then you may need more than one procedure. The interval between operations, if you require more than a single treatment, is about six weeks.  

Length of Recovery

The recovery time for this procedure can vary from patient to patient, but you should be able to resume your normal activities within a few days. There may be some residual pain from the operation for the first day or two after you return home. This pain is usually mild and easily treatable with over-the-counter-medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Soaking in a warm bath may ease any lingering discomfort as well. 

What Are the Contraindications?

If you have especially large prolapsed hemorrhoids, then a rubber band ligation may not be the most effective procedure, according to WebMD. In this instance, your physician may recommend that you undergo a hemorrhoidectomy, a procedure where the doctor surgically removes the hemorrhoid. This operation has a good success rate, but also has a higher risk of complications than less intrusive measures, such as rubber band ligation. 

Hemorrhoid banding is an effective treatment for some patients who suffer from prolapsed hemorrhoids. To learn more, consult with your physician.