Hemorrhoids are a common condition that affect nearly half of all adults at some point in their lives. They occur when veins around the anus or lower rectum become swollen and inflamed. Wondering how long hemorrhoids last? Typically, mild to moderate cases clear up within 1-2 weeks with simple home treatments. More severe hemorrhoids can last several weeks or longer depending on the type, severity, and treatment approach.
Understanding the different stages, progression, and recovery time for hemorrhoids can help you seek appropriate treatment and manage expectations. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the duration and recovery timeline for hemorrhoids.
Key Takeaways: Duration and Recovery Timeline
- Mild internal hemorrhoids often clear up within 1-2 weeks using home remedies.
- External hemorrhoids usually heal within 2-3 weeks with proper self-care.
- Thrombosed external hemorrhoids may take 3-4 weeks to resolve without intervention.
- Prolapsed internal hemorrhoids can last 2-3 months or longer with conservative management. Surgery reduces duration.
- Stage 1-2 internal hemorrhoids typically resolve within 1-3 months after procedures like banding.
- Recovery after hemorrhoid procedures like banding can take 2-4 weeks. Full healing takes about 2 months.
- Hemorrhoidectomy recovery takes 2-4 weeks for initial healing, with full resolution in about 2 months.
- Lifestyle and diet changes can prevent recurrent hemorrhoids long-term when continued consistently.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They can develop inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).
Hemorrhoids are extremely common, especially with age. By age 50, about half of adults have dealt with this condition at some point. However, hemorrhoids can affect people of all ages.
These swollen veins are naturally present in everyone and act as cushions to help control bowel movements. They only become a problem when they swell and become inflamed.
There are several factors that can cause the blood vessels in hemorrhoids to become irritated and enlarge, including:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting for long periods
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Low fiber diet
- Heavy lifting
Hemorrhoids are not dangerous but can cause discomfort, itching, bleeding, and difficulty going to the bathroom. Understanding how long hemorrhoids typically last depends on the type and severity.
Types of Hemorrhoids
There are two main types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Both can appear together.
Internal hemorrhoids form inside the rectum above the anal sphincter. They are usually painless but can prolapse and protrude outside the anus when straining or passing stools.
There are four grades or stages of internal hemorrhoids:
- Grade 1: Hemorrhoids remain inside the rectum and do not prolapse.
- Grade 2: Hemorrhoids prolapse with straining but retract back in on their own.
- Grade 3: Prolapsed hemorrhoids have to be pushed back in manually.
- Grade 4: Hemorrhoids are permanently prolapsed outside the anus.
Mild (grade 1-2) internal hemorrhoids often clear up quickly, while grade 3-4 hemorrhoids that continually prolapse tend to be more persistent.
External hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus. They can be extremely painful if blood supply is cut off (thrombosed).
Some key differences:
- External hemorrhoids are innervated, so they hurt if irritated or thrombosed. Internal hemorrhoids usually don’t hurt.
- External hemorrhoids can form painful blood clots. This does not happen with internal hemorrhoids.
- External hemorrhoids can easily be seen or felt as lumps around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids can’t usually be seen or felt.
How long do hemorrhoids last depends on whether they are internal or external. Let’s look at recovery timelines and symptoms for each type.
How Long Do Internal Hemorrhoids Last?
For mild (grade 1-2) internal hemorrhoids, the most common duration is 1 to 2 weeks with proper home treatment. If the hemorrhoids continually prolapse (grade 3-4), the duration is often longer from 2 to 3 months with conservative management. Here’s a more detailed look at timelines based on internal hemorrhoid grade and treatment:
Grade 1 Internal Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: No prolapse or protrusion; may bleed painlessly
Duration: Usually resolve in 1-2 weeks with conservative treatment like diet changes, OTC remedies, and sitz baths.
Treatment: Home remedies, fixative procedures like sclerotherapy or infrared coagulation.
Grade 1 hemorrhoids rarely require procedures and tend to resolve quickly with simple diet and lifestyle modifications to prevent constipation and straining.
Grade 2 Internal Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Prolapse through anus during bowel movements but retract on their own afterwards. May bleed.
Duration: Often resolve within 1-3 weeks when home treatments are used consistently.
Treatment: Home remedies, rubber band ligation, coagulation, sclerotherapy.
Like grade 1 hemorrhoids, grade 2 hemorrhoids often resolve fairly quickly when straining and constipation are minimized. Rubber band ligation can reduce duration.
Grade 3 Internal Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Prolapse through anus with bowel movements and must be pushed back in manually. Bleed when prolapsed.
Duration: Usually resolve within 1-3 months with conservative treatments, but may recur frequently.
Treatment: Home remedies, rubber band ligation, hemorrhoidectomy.
The protrusion associated with grade 3 hemorrhoids means they tend to be more persistent than grade 1-2 hemorrhoids, often recurring after treatment. Procedures like rubber band ligation can reduce duration.
Grade 4 Internal Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Permanently prolapsed hemorrhoids that cannot be pushed back in. Cause discomfort, discharge, bleeding, and difficulty cleaning.
Duration: Do not resolve without treatment. Require procedures or surgery, which reduce duration to 2-3 months.
Treatment: Rubber band ligation, hemorrhoidectomy (surgery), hemorrhoidopexy.
Severely prolapsed grade 4 hemorrhoids won’t improve without medical procedures such as rubber band ligation or surgery, which can resolve grade 4 hemorrhoids in 2-3 months.
How Long Do External Hemorrhoids Last?
For mild to moderate external hemorrhoids, the usual duration is 2-3 weeks with proper home treatment. Severe thrombosed external hemorrhoids may last 3-4 weeks before resolving without surgery. Here are more details:
Mild External Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Swollen lumps under the skin around the anus, minor pain or itching
Duration: Tend to resolve with home treatments within 2-3 weeks. Thrombosed hemorrhoids may take longer.
Treatment: Home remedies, OTC medications, warm baths, thrombosed hemorrhoid treatment
Mild external hemorrhoids often resolve on their own within several weeks using conservative home treatments and OTC remedies to reduce swelling and discomfort. Avoiding constipation and straining can help them heal faster.
Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Very painful, purplish lumps under the skin due to a blocked blood vessel (clot).
Duration: Usually resolve spontaneously in 3-4 weeks. Thrombectomy reduces duration to 1-2 weeks.
Treatment: Home remedies, thrombectomy procedure, hemorrhoidectomy.
Thrombosed external hemorrhoids can be extremely painful due to lack of blood flow. Removing the clot with a thrombectomy can provide rapid relief within 24 hours. Without medical procedures, thrombosed hemorrhoids typically take 3-4 weeks to improve.
Prolapsed External Hemorrhoids
Symptoms: Irreducible bulge from anorectal ring, mucus discharge, pain, swelling, bleeding.
Duration: Do not resolve without treatment. Hemorrhoidectomy reduces duration to 2 months.
Treatment: Hemorrhoidectomy surgery, hemorrhoidopexy.
Prolapsed external hemorrhoids will not go back inside on their own and require a procedure or surgery to treat, which shortens duration. Full recovery after hemorrhoidectomy for prolapsed external hemorrhoids is about 2 months.
Recovery Stages and Timeline After Hemorrhoid Treatment
Once hemorrhoids develop, treatment procedures may be needed to shrink them faster and prevent recurrence long-term. Here is an overview of recovery stages and duration after popular hemorrhoid treatments:
Hemorrhoid Banding Recovery
Rubber band ligation is one of the most common treatments for internal grade 2-3 hemorrhoids. It works by cutting off blood supply to hemorrhoids so they shrink and die off. Recovery involves the following stages:
1-3 Days After: Mild to moderate pain as hemorrhoid tissue dies. Manage with OTC pain medication. Bleeding possible.
1-2 Weeks After: Hemorrhoid shrivels and falls off. Discomfort improves. Bleeding stops.
2-4 Weeks After: Wound heals shut. Intermittent mild pain and discharge may linger.
2 Months After: Full resolution typically achieved. Repeat banding sometimes needed for recurring hemorrhoids.
Rubber band ligation recovery usually takes about 2-4 weeks for initial healing. It can take up to 2 months for complete healing and resolution of symptoms after the bands fall off.
Sclerotherapy or Coagulation Recovery
Fixative procedures like sclerotherapy injections and infrared coagulation can treat grade 1-2 internal hemorrhoids by scarring tissue so hemorrhoids shrink. The recovery timeline is similar to banding:
1-3 Days After: Mild rectal pain, bleeding possible. Avoid straining.
1-2 Weeks After: Pain improves. Bleeding stops as scars form.
2-4 Weeks After: Hemorrhoids shrink substantially. Intermittent symptoms resolve.
2 Months After: Hemorrhoids completely resolved. Repeat procedures may be needed.
Pain, bleeding, and other symptoms typically resolve within 1-2 weeks. Complete shrinkage of the hemorrhoids can take up to 2 months.
Hemorrhoidectomy is surgery to remove severe, persistent, or prolapsed internal and external hemorrhoids. It has a longer, more painful recovery, but resolves hemorrhoids effectively long-term in about 2 months. Typical recovery includes:
1 Week After: Significant pain, swelling, bleeding during bowel movements. Take prescribed pain medication.
2-3 Weeks After: Pain, bleeding improves. Take sitz baths. Keep area clean to prevent infection.
1 Month After: Bleeding usually stopped. Pain becomes intermittent. Avoid constipation.
6-8 Weeks After: Return to normal activities once pain resolves. Healing usually complete after 2 months.
It takes 2-4 weeks for initial healing after hemorrhoidectomy and about 2 months for full resolution of pain, bleeding, and swelling. Follow all post-op instructions carefully to prevent complications.
Thrombosed Hemorrhoid Excision Recovery
Thrombectomy is a quick in-office procedure to remove a painful blood clot from a thrombosed external hemorrhoid. This provides rapid relief, with recovery as follows:
24 Hours After: Immediate pain relief. Bleeding and swelling still present. Use pain medication.
1 Week After: Pain, swelling improve daily. Bleeding stops. Sitting becomes more comfortable.
2 Weeks After: Incision heals. Swelling gone. Intermittent minor discomfort may remain temporarily.
1-2 Months After: Hemorrhoid resolves completely in most cases. Lifestyle changes prevent recurrence.
Excising the clot brings fast relief from pain (within 24 hours). Full recovery takes 1-2 weeks on average but swelling and tenderness may come and go for up to 1-2 months.
How Can I Prevent Hemorrhoids From Coming Back?
Even once hemorrhoids have resolved after treatment, they may come back in the future unless preventive measures are taken. Here are some tips to prevent recurrent hemorrhoids long-term:
- Avoid constipation and straining. Increase fiber, drink fluids, exercise, avoid laxative overuse. Use stool softeners as needed. Don’t delay bowel movements.
- Practice good bathroom habits. Don’t sit on the toilet for long periods. Avoid reading or straining. Use a footstool to elevate feet.
- Clean gently. Use soft, moist wipes and pat dry instead of rubbing harshly after a bowel movement.
- Take warm baths. 10-15 minute warm (not hot) baths can relieve swelling and irritation.
- Lose excess weight. Extra weight puts pressure on hemorrhoids. Losing even 5-10% of body weight helps reduce hemorrhoid recurrence.
- Consider fixative procedures. For recurring grade 1-2 hemorrhoids, sclerotherapy or banding can prevent recurrence.
- Don’t lift heavy objects. Use proper form and get help when lifting heavy objects to avoid the strain.
Making positive lifestyle and dietary changes is key to preventing hemorrhoids from returning once they’ve healed. Stay active, eat fiber, drink water, and avoid straining during bowel movements.
Common Questions About Hemorrhoid Duration and Recovery
To summarize how long hemorrhoids last, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How long does it take for hemorrhoids to go away on their own?
- Mild internal hemorrhoids often go away within 1-2 weeks using home treatments. Grade 2-3 hemorrhoids may take up to 2 months to resolve conservatively. External hemorrhoids usually take 2-4 weeks to disappear without intervention.
Do hemorrhoids go away permanently or can they come back?
- Hemorrhoids can often return after going away if lifestyle factors aren’t changed. Preventing constipation, straining, and heavy lifting can help keep hemorrhoids from returning after treatment. Procedures may be needed for recurrent hemorrhoids.
How long does hemorrhoid banding take to work?
- Hemorrhoid banding takes about 2-4 weeks for initial recovery. Complete resolution of prolapsed hemorrhoids typically occurs within 2 months after the banding. However, multiple banding sessions may be needed for recurring hemorrhoids.
Can hemorrhoids heal without surgery?
- Yes, mild to moderate internal and external hemorrhoids often heal without surgery using home remedies, OTC treatments, fixative procedures, improved dietary habits, and avoidance of straining/constipation. Hemorrhoidectomy is usually reserved for severe cases only.
How long does it take to recover from hemorrhoid surgery?
- Initial hemorrhoidectomy recovery takes about 2-4 weeks, while complete healing typically takes about 2 months. Full resolution of pain, discharge, bleeding, and prolapse is usually achieved by 2 months post-op.
Know What to Expect for Hemorrhoid Relief
Understanding the typical timeline for hemorrhoid resolution can set appropriate expectations for symptom relief. Most mild to moderate cases improve within a few weeks using conservative at-home treatments. More advanced hemorrhoids may take up to 2-3 months to resolve completely depending on the treatment approach.
Lifestyle and dietary changes are essential during and after treatment for hemorrhoids to heal properly and not recur frequently. While uncomfortable and frustrating, this common condition is usually not serious. Being proactive about proper care, treatment, and prevention can help get hemorrhoids to go away faster while improving long-term abdominal health and comfort.