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  • Infrared vs. Laser for small internal hemorrhoid and which insurance to cover it

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    Old 01-28-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
    roidfever's Avatar
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    Question Infrared vs. Laser for small internal hemorrhoid and which insurance to cover it

    This will probably sound whiny considering how mild my problem is compared to some others I have read on here, but it is negatively affecting my quality of life all the same and I need to do something about it.

    I am a 27 year old male and last summer I lost about 70 lbs, going down from 245 to 175. During this time my diet helped me lose weight but was not nearly high enough in fiber and I was straining a lot to have a bowel movement. Lo and behold a small hemorrhoid showed up and even though since then I have fixed the diet and straining problem the hemorrhoid is still there. It seems between grades II and III as it tends to prolapse maybe twice or three times a week. I always push it back in with a finger out of fear it won't go back in on its own, so it is hard to say if it is really grade III or not. It is about the size of a large pea. When I was 21 or so I had a large external hemorrhoid that thrombosed and had to be excised, but other than that have had no history of hemorrhoids.

    I have tried everything conservative under the sun for the past 6 months and have found no relief. I realize this is probably the most mild case of hemorrhoids ever mentioned on this site but I have ongoing anxiety problems and since my parent died from colon cancer and bowel infections I have even more anxiety about it so a small pea sized hemorrhoid is causing me more stress than I'd care to admit.

    My current health insurance through my employer won't cover much of anything. They only offer surgical removal and I have heard and read enough horror stories about that to stay far away from that option.

    So where I find myself is debating between my two options: Go to a local facility that does the infrared coagulation (IRC) and get several treatments of this at $250 per session and hope it works since my hemorrhoid is small, or go to the laser hemorrhoid treatment center in Phoenix and pay $1900 plus travel expenses for the procedure. From what I can find IRC has a 20-30% recurrence rate where laser has less than 1%. What I can find claims IRC works well for small internal hemorrhoids, which is what I have. I don't want to do overkill with the laser and be out of work for an entire week but I also don't want to waste money on the IRC only to have to end up using the laser in the end. This brings me to my next point of contention between the two treatment options, which is that the person on the phone at the laser center claimed that patients that try to use IRC first end up going with laser anyways in the end (though this may be a sales tactic considering laser is more expensive than IRC).

    This person at the laser treatment center claimed IRC only reduces the size of the hemorrhoid not actually eliminates it so it can recur easier. A website mentioned this exact point as being what is wrong with laser treatment because it removes an important set of blood vessels used in the sphincter and can cause different health problems later down the road. I also read elsewhere that we have three internal and three external hemorrhoids and once all three inside or outside are gone, you are at much greater risk for other bowel problems due to the lack of these hemorrhoids. So in that regard would that make IRC safer?

    My other problem is if I go with the laser surgery or even the IRC I want to try to buy some new health insurance that will cover it but cannot seem to find any information easily on what insurance companies do and don't cover this treatment. The other issue with this is that I would need to find an insurance company with the lowest possible waiting period before I can get them to help pay for the laser treatment.

    So finally it boils down to two bottom lines.

    1) For my case is laser treatment really necessary or would I hopefully be in the 70-80% of people that don't see recurrence with IRC?

    2) What insurances cover the laser and IRC treatment and how can I go about finding one with minimal waiting period?

    Last edited by roidfever; 01-28-2013 at 12:41 PM.

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