Hemorrhoids or piles are masses or lumps formed due to swollen blood vessels in the rectum. In severe stages, they may become infected or protrude from the anus (prolapsed hemorrhoid) and require surgical removal. The procedure used to treat or remove hemorrhoids is known as rubber band ligation. In rubber band ligation, an elastic band is tied around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off blood supply.

Rubber band ligation may be performed in your doctor’s office or ambulatory care setting. The patient is placed on their left side and a topical anesthetic is applied to the anus to diminish discomfort. Your doctor inserts an anoscope, a viewing instrument, into your anus and passes a small tool called a ligator through it. Your doctor grasps the hemorrhoid with forceps. The ligator is then passed over the hemorrhoid to place a rubber band around it. If you feel pain after placing the rubber bands, a numbing medicine may be injected into the hemorrhoids. Up to 2 hemorrhoids can be treated at one time.

Following rubber band ligation, you may feel fullness in your lower abdomen or the need to have a bowel movement. You may be asked to take stool softeners and drink more fluids to prevent constipation and straining during bowel movements to prevent the recurrence of hemorrhoids. Following rubber band ligation, the hemorrhoid shrinks dies and falls off in about a week.

As with any procedure, rubber band ligation may involve certain risks and complications such as severe pain, anal bleeding, infection in the anal canal and trouble urinating.

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