Your doctor used a lighted tube (endoscope, or scope) to help fix one or more enlarged veins in your esophagus. That's the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. The enlarged veins are called varices.
The doctor placed elastic rings around the veins. The rings look like rubber bands.
The bands cut off blood flow through the vein. They help prevent internal bleeding.
You may need to have the procedure several times to control the varices and prevent bleeding. Your doctor will probably check the varices every 3 to 12 months.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
- Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
- You may need to take a day or two off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
- For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
- Your doctor may suggest sleeping with more pillows so you aren't lying flat.
- Do not eat or drink for 2 hours after your procedure.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Try just liquids for your first meal after the surgery. Then you can have regular food if it feels okay. You might try soft foods until your throat feels better.
- Do not drink alcohol. It increases your risk of bleeding. It can also make liver damage worse. Tell your doctor if you need help to quit. Counseling, support groups, and sometimes medicines can help you stay sober.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You are short of breath.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
- Your stools are maroon or very bloody.
- You are sick to your stomach or can't keep down fluids.
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You have a fever.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your throat still hurts, food feels like it sticks in your throat, or you have trouble swallowing after a day or two.
- You do not get better as expected.