What are anal warts?
Anal warts are small growths of skin that appear around the anus that are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus infects the top layers of the skin. It is recommended that warts be removed since they can grow and spread, causing discomfort and affecting your bowel movements. Removing the warts does not eradicate the HPV, which can live in normal tissue for up to six months. This means that patients may still be infectious after warts are removed, and that they can re-occur.
How are anal warts treated?
There are a number of methods by which the warts can be removed, depending on the size and location of the warts:
1. Electrocautery – warts are burnt off using a low-voltage electric current through a thin wire or probe. This method immediately seals the blood vessels, so no stitches are needed.
2. Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) – this is similar to electrocautery, but the wire or probe has a loop on the end to remove the warts.
3. Surgical removal – warts are cut away using a scalpel. Dissolvable stitches are used to close the wound.
4. Laser ablation – a high-energy beam of light destroys the warts. It seals blood vessels so stitches are not necessary.
The treatments outlined above are usually done under general anaesthetic as a day-case.