Vein stripping with ligation, avulsion, or ablation; Saphenous vein ligation
Vein stripping is surgery to remove varicose veins in the legs.
Varicose veins are swollen, painful veins that have filled with blood. They usually develop in the legs.
Vein stripping is usually done when a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein is thick and rope-like.
Vein stripping usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Most people receive either:
Your surgeon will make two small surgical cuts in your leg.
If you have other damaged veins, your surgeon may also make small cuts over them to remove them or tie them off.
The doctor will close the cuts with stitches (sutures). You will have bandages and compression stockings on your leg after the procedure.
Vein stripping may be recommended for:
Today, doctors are doing fewer vein stripping surgeries because there are newer, non-surgical ways to treat varicose veins. These other treatments are less painful and have a much faster recovery time.
See also: Varicose Vein - noninvasive treatment
Vein stripping is usually safe. Ask your doctor about any problems that might occur.
The risks from any anesthesia include:
The risks from any surgery include:
The risks from vein stripping include:
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
Your legs will be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 3 - 5 days after surgery. You may need to keep them wrapped for several weeks.
When you are resting, try to keep your legs raised higher than the level of your heart. Place pillows or blankets under your legs to raise them up.
You may also wear compression stockings. These help improve blood flow. It is very important to keep your bandages and compression stockings on until all the surgical cuts have healed. Your doctor will tell you when you no longer need them. To prevent varicose veins from coming back, you may have to wear compression stockings for a long time.
Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine. Take the medication before your pain gets severe. Do NOT drive or use machinery if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. The medicine will make you sleepy, and it will not be safe for you to drive or operate machines.
Take at least 10 to 12 short walks a day, for 5 to 10 minutes each. Do not sit or stand in one place for too long.
You will probably be able to return to your normal routine in 2 weeks. However, you should not do strenuous physical activity for 3 to 6 weeks. You should be able to shower 2 days after surgery.
Surgical vein stripping is usually very successful. It reduces pain and improves the appearance of your leg. Rarely, vein stripping causes scars.
Brar R, Nordon IM, Hinchliffe RJ, Loftus IM, Thompson MM. Surgical management of varicose veins: meta-analysis. Vascular. 2010;18(4):205-220.
Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 68.
Nijsten T, van den Bos RR, Goldman MP, et al. Minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of saphenous varicose veins. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;60(1):110-119.
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