Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

Other encyclopedia topics:  A-Ag  Ah-Ap  Aq-Az  B-Bk  Bl-Bz  C-Cg  Ch-Co  Cp-Cz  D-Di  Dj-Dz  E-Ep  Eq-Ez  F  G  H-Hf  Hg-Hz  I-In  Io-Iz  J  K  L-Ln  Lo-Lz  M-Mf  Mg-Mz  N  O  P-Pl  Pm-Pz  Q  R  S-Sh  Si-Sp  Sq-Sz  T-Tn  To-Tz  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  0-9 

Varicose vein stripping

Contents of this page:


Circulatory system
Circulatory system

Alternative Names    Return to top

Saphenectomy; 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.

A.D.A.M. Logo

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2009, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.