Infrared photocoagulation (also called coagulation therapy) is a medical procedure used to treat small- and medium-sized hemorrhoids. This treatment is only for internal hemorrhoids. During the procedure, the doctor uses a device that creates an intense beam of infrared light. Heat created by the infrared light causes scar tissue, which cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid. The hemorrhoid dies, and a scar forms on the wall of the anal canal. The scar tissue holds nearby veins in place so they don't bulge into the anal canal.
Only one hemorrhoid can be treated at a time. Other hemorrhoids may be treated at 10- to 14-day intervals.
This medical procedure may be done with other devices, such as a laser or electrical current, that also cut off a hemorrhoid's blood supply.
Infrared photocoagulation is done in a doctor's office. You may feel heat and some pain during the procedure. Afterward, you may have a sensation of fullness in your lower belly. Or you may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement.
Make sure not to lift anything heavy until you heal. It's also important not to strain when you have a bowel movement.
Bleeding from the anus occurs 7 to 10 days after the procedure, when the hemorrhoid falls off. Bleeding is usually slight and stops by itself.
- You may use mild pain relievers and sit in a shallow tub of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 minutes at a time to relieve discomfort.
- To reduce the risk of bleeding, avoid taking aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for 4 to 5 days both before and after infrared coagulation.
- Doctors recommend that you take stool softeners that contain fiber to ensure smooth bowel movements. If you strain during bowel movements, hemorrhoids can come back.
Doctors recommend coagulation therapy in cases where small internal hemorrhoids continue to cause symptoms after home treatment.
Infrared photocoagulation works for about 7 to 10 out of 10 people who have it. But improvements may not last. And 2 out of 10 people may need surgery.1
Risks of coagulation therapy include:
- Considerable pain during the procedure.
- Bleeding from the anus.
- Infection in the anal area.
- Temporary inability to urinate.
- Reese GE, et al. (2009). Haemorrhoids, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Current as of: November 29, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.