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Alternative Names Return to topSaphenectomy; Vein stripping with ligation, avulsion, or ablation
Definition Return to top
Vein stripping is surgery to remove varicose veins in the legs. These veins are removed because they are large and painful, and they affect the way the leg looks.
Description Return to top
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, painful veins that have filled with blood. They usually develop in the legs. Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing so it does not collect in one place. But the valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to remain filled with blood, especially when you are standing.
Vein stripping for this problem is done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Most people receive general anesthesia before this surgery. Will be unconscious and unable to feel pain. Vein stripping takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Your surgeon will make two small incisions (cuts) in your leg.
If you have other damaged veins, your surgeon may also make small incisions over them to remove them or tie them off.
The doctor will close the incisions with sutures (stitches). You may also have bandages and compression stockings on your leg.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Vein stripping may be recommended for:
Today, more doctors are doing fewer vein stripping surgeries because there are newer ways to treat varicose veins without surgery. These other treatments are less painful and easier to recover from.
See also: Varicose Vein - noninvasive treatment
Risks Return to top
Vein stripping is generally safe. Ask your doctor about specific problems that might occur.
The risks for any anesthesia are:
The risks for any surgery are:
The risks of for vein stripping are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
During the days before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
Your legs may be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 3 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 be wearing compression stockings. These help with blood flow. It is very important to keep your bandages and compression stockings on until all the open vein ends have healed. Your doctor will tell you when you no longer need them.
Your doctor may prescribe pain medicine. Take it before your pain gets severe. Do NOT drive or use machinery if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. The medicine will make you drowsy, 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. But you should not do strenuous physical activity for 3 to 6 weeks. You should be able to shower 2 days after surgery.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Surgical vein stripping is usually very successful. It reduces pain and improves the appearance of your leg. Vein stripping does leave scars sometimes.
References Return to top
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; 2008:chap 68.
Nijsten T, van den Bos RR, Goldman MP, et al. Minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of saphenous varicose veins. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Jan 2009;60(1).Update Date: 2/9/2009 Updated by: Larry A. Weinrauch MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Outcomes Research, Watertown, MA.. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.