What is a haemorrhoidectomy?
Haemorrhoidectomy is an operation to remove severe haemorrhoids (also known as piles). It is usually a day procedure and is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic. The procedure is common and generally safe, but recovery after the surgery can take a few weeks and can be painful.
Why is haemorrhoidectomy performed?
Most haemorrhoids can either be treated with medicines or non-surgical procedures or avoided with appropriate diet and exercise.
If non-surgical treatments don't work, or the haemorrhoids are particularly large, a doctor might suggest a haemorrhoidectomy.
Removing the haemorrhoids will relieve the uncomfortable symptoms, but haemorrhoids can also return.
How do I prepare for a haemorrhoidectomy?
If you are having a haemorrhoidectomy, you should follow the guidelines your hospital or clinic gives you on how to prepare for the procedure.
You will be asked not to eat or drink some hours before admission to the clinic. If you usually take blood-thinning medication, you might be asked to stop taking it some days before the procedure.
You might also be asked to take an enema or laxative to empty out your bowel.
Learn more about how to prepare for surgery here.
What happens during a haemorrhoidectomy
A haemorrhoidectomy is performed under a general anaesthetic, so you won't be awake during the surgery.
There are several types of haemorrhoidectomy procedure:
- The haemorrhoids can be cut away.
- The haemorrhoids can be pulled back inside the rectum and stapled in place.
- The arteries supplying blood to the haemorrhoids can be closed to help them shrink.
What to expect after a haemorrhoidectomy
After the surgery, you'll probably be in quite a bit of pain – especially when opening your bowels – and you might have some bleeding.
Many people go home the same day, but make sure you are collected by someone who can take you home.
You should follow any directions you are given by your clinic. For example, you may be asked to take stool softeners for some time to reduce discomfort in emptying your bowels when you use the toilet
It is important to avoid constipation, so you should drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet that is high in fibre, fruit and vegetables.
The general anaesthetic might make you feel sick and tired for a few days. Many people need to take 1to 2 weeks off work to recover.
Your doctor will probably ask you to return for a check-up sometime after your operation.
What can go wrong?
Haemorrhoidectomy is a common and generally safe surgical procedure. But there can also be complications, including:
- excessive bleeding
- difficulty urinating
- infection, which might cause a high temperature
- loss of control of the rectal sphincter
- narrowing or damage to the anal canal
If you have any of these symptoms, or the pain around your anus gets worse rather than better, you should call your doctor for advice.
Resources and support
Visit the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand website to learn more.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2021