When you’re in the throes of dealing with rectal prolapse, it may seem like good news is hard to come by, but we assure you, plenty exists. For example, there are solutions for this condition, which affects about 0.5% of the population in the United States.
As colorectal experts, the team here at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery has ample experience with issues like rectal prolapse. In this month’s blog post, we explore how to identify the problem and what we can do to quickly resolve your rectal prolapse.
As with many medical conditions, early identification of rectal prolapse is important because we’re able to quickly step in before the problem gets any worse.
Rectal prolapse is a condition in which your rectum, which is the end part of your lower intestine, loses support and collapses into (and sometimes out of) your anus. The prolapse of your rectum is often described as telescoping into your anus.
Rectal prolapse most often affects people over age 50, and women are far more likely (about six times) than men to develop rectal prolapse. It was once thought that this was due to childbirth, but women who haven’t given birth can, and do, develop rectal prolapse.
The primary signs of rectal prolapse include
If the tissue prolapses to the point that it exits your anus, you can see or feel the tissue. This degree of prolapse might occur during and after a bowel movement and correct itself. After some time, and as your sphincter weakens, however, the tissue can remain outside your anus.
Since rectal prolapse and other conditions like hemorrhoids share many of the same symptoms, getting your issue properly diagnosed is important.
If we find that you’ve developed rectal prolapse, we will discuss the possibilities moving forward. In its earliest stages — the tissue hasn’t prolapsed outside your anus — we can try conservative measures, such as tweaks in your diet to discourage constipation and exercises to strengthen your anus.
It’s important to note that any existing prolapse won’t go away on its own, but these early steps may prevent the problem from worsening.
Should your rectal prolapse progress and your symptoms worsen, surgery is your best solution. We use the most minimally invasive techniques available and go in through your rectum or tiny incisions in your abdomen. Once inside, we use specialized tools to restore your rectum to its proper position with renewed support.
But we’re jumping ahead a little bit here. The first step if you suspect you might have rectal prolapse is to come to see us. To get started, please schedule an appointment by contacting one of our offices in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia.