Haemorrhoids (also known as piles) are extremely common with over half the UK population suffering at some point in their lives. Piles are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum or anus with typical symptoms being pain, itching and bleeding around the anal area. They are generally treated with over the counter ointments, home treatment and lifestyle changes. In some cases, if left untreated, they can be difficult to get rid of and may require surgery. If surgery becomes necessary, it is usually under general anaesthetic and can be quite debilitating for some time, with up to a four-week recovery period.
What causes piles?
Piles are caused by an increase in pressure in the lower rectum and develop gradually over a long period. The most common causes are obesity, constipation, pregnancy, chronic diarrhoea, a low fibre diet or genetics. However, many sufferers are older people due to age-related stretching and weakening of the tissues which support rectal veins.
The Rafaelo® procedure
Thanks to a new procedure, developed in Poland and now available in the UK, some patients may be able to seek an alternative treatment using radio frequency ablation technology to reduce the size of the haemorrhoid and eliminate symptoms.
The Rafaelo® Procedure has a much lower risk of pain, is less invasive than surgery, and can be performed by a consultant colorectal surgeon in just a few minutes, with the patient able to get on with everyday life and return home straight away.
The procedure is based on the same technology as that used in the treatment of varicose veins. The consultant injects the base of the haemorrhoid with local anaesthetic via an anoscope and, once numb, inserts a metal probe to each haemorrhoid. This probe sends radio-frequency energy which reduces the blood flow. The piles will then literally shrink until they disappear, leaving a scar or mucous membrane covering the old site of the piles.
Haemorrhoids are graded from one as the smallest to four as the largest (these are often external). The Rafaelo procedure is suitable for most patients who are graded three or below. Grade four treated piles may not be completely removed but just reduced in size.
The following can help prevent piles and / or reduce symptoms of existing conditions:
Ensure you have plenty of high-fibre foods as part of your diet.
Always drink plenty of fluids (especially water).
Go to the toilet when you need to – don’t wait.
Avoid pushing or straining when passing a stool.
Avoid sitting for extended periods.
Use fibre supplements if necessary.
Click here to learn more about the Rafaelo procedure and where it is available.